SCHUYLKILL TOWNSHIP
BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
MEETING DATE: September 7, 2016

Duly advertised in The Pottstown Mercury and posted at www.schuylkilltwp.com

Board of Supervisors Members Present

Fred Parry - Chairman, Barbara Cohen – Vice Chair, Martha Majewski – Treasurer, Jim Morrisson; Susan Guerette

Also Present

William Brennan, Esq.-Township Solicitor, Madeline Harbison-Township Secretary

The Township Engineer was excused from this meeting.

Township Representatives in Attendance

James Fetterman–Schuylkill Township Chief of Police, Bob Mauch – Open Space Commission, Sandy Momyer – Historical Commission

Supervisor Parry announced that an executive session had been held immediately prior to the regular meeting to discuss personnel and litigation issues.

Conditional Use Hearing

At 7:00 p.m. The Township Solicitor, Mr. Brennan, opened the continued hearing on Application No. 2016-01. Applicant & Owner:  Phoenixville Area School District. Premises: Chester County UPI No. 27-5D-10 located at 10 Campbell Lane, Zoned PFZ – Public Facilities Zone, Existing Improvements include a Farmhouse and Barn. Applicant proposes to demolish the existing barn pursuant to the Schuylkill Township Zoning Ordinance Section 370-55.B.  Court Reporter Thomas Cocoran recorded the proceedings.

Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township granted the joint request of the Phoenixville Area School District and the Schuylkill Township Historical Commission for a fifteen (15) month continuance to a future date to be determined. 

Mr. Brennan closed the hearing at 7:20 p.m.

The Board of Supervisors resumed its executive session by unanimous consent.

Call to Order

The regular public business meeting of the Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors 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 stated that an executive session had been held immediately prior to the regular meeting to discuss personnel and litigation issues.

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 said that statements to the Board will be limited to 3 minutes and comments by unrecognized persons will not be acknowledged.  Supervisor Parry reminded meeting attendees that any proposed agenda items must be submitted to the township manager no later than 12:00 noon on the Wednesday preceding any given Board meeting and that late submissions will be not be placed on the current agenda but held for a subsequent meeting unless approved by the Chairman of the Board. 

Consent Agenda

  1. Approval and acceptance of the Minutes of the August 3, 2016 Board of Supervisors Regular Business Meeting.
  2. Acceptance of all departmental, committee, commission and council reports as posted and received by the Board of Supervisors for the month of August 2016.

Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township accepted and approved the August 3, 2016 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 2016.

Board Member Reports

Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee (“PRPC”): Supervisor Cohen updated the Board on the PRPC grant application to Chester County for the proposed updating of the regional comprehensive plan.

Historical Commission (“HC”):  Supervisor Cohen mentioned that the HC had discussed the Meadowbrook barn at its last meeting and noted that the former owners had placed the barn and the farm itself under the National Register of Historic Places, not a national historic site but on the national register.  Supervisor Cohen said the HC also discussed the issues with the barn, both structural and otherwise, and said the agreed-up 15-month continuance would be used to explore with the PASD resolution of these issues and possible adaptive re-use of the structure.

Supervisor Parry recognized Mr. Pete Mercuri.  Mr. Mercuri questioned the start-time of the Conditional Use Hearing.  The Township Solicitor advised Mr. Mercuri that the time was stated and advertised at the hearing held on August 3, 2016.

Treasurer’s Report and Payment of Bills

Supervisor Majewski, Treasurer, advised the Board that as of August 31, 2016, the Township’s general fund shows a balance of about $4 million.  She went on to say that the township has expended almost 52% of its budget as of August 31, 2016.  Supervisor Majewski reported that the bills for August 2016 have been reviewed and she recommended payment of these bills.

Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the Treasurer’s Report for the period ending August 31, 2016 and authorized payment of Township bills for the period ending August 31, 2016.

Supervisor Majewski recognized Nick Cinciripino, Roadmaster, for completing the 2016 paving program under budget.

Announcements

Supervisor Parry made the following announcements:

School is open – please drive carefully. 

A Household Hazardous Waste Event will be held on Saturday, September 10th from 9 am to 3pm at the Oxford School District Administration Building.  No electronics will be accepted.

Join the Schuylkill Township Police Department on Thursday, September 15th for a presentation and discussion on issues facing our community.  7:30 p.m. at the Phoenixville Country Club.

Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Company’s Annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser – Sunday September 18th.  4:00 pm–7:00 pm at the main station on Valley Park Rd.

Join Senator Dinniman on September 24th at the Medal of Honor Grove to honor our veterans.  Program will start at 10:00 a.m.

Monday October 10th – Valley Forge Fire Volunteer Fire Company Open House from 6 pm – 8 pm.

Thursday October 27th – Township-sponsored seminar on Reverse Mortgages presented by Penna. Dept. of Banking & Securities.  7:00 pm at the Schuylkill Township Hall.

Supervisor Cohen invited residents to an event at the Schuylkill River Heritage Center at 7:30 pm for a presentation by Adam Levine on Philadelphia & The Schuylkill River.

Supervisor Morrisson informed residents that Sullivan’s Bridge, the new pedestrian/bicycle bridge connecting Valley Forge National Historical Park to the Schuylkill River Trail, was opened on August 19, 2016.

Board Discussion Items

Old Business

Legal Matters

Solicitor Brennan reported on certain on-going legal matters:

Tredyffrin Township Zoning Hearing Board/Ham Radio Tower-DePolo:  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Federal Court decision against the 180-foot radio tower in the DePolo case.

10 Kerry Lane – Illegal Fence Installation/Kaller:  This case, handled by the Township’s Code Enforcement Officer in District Court, was decided in favor of the Township.

255 Valley Park Road/Meehan:  The Zoning Hearing Board opinion came in consistent with the decision of Chester County Court of Common Pleas.  Further action may be taken.

Supervisor Cohen thanked Mr. Brennan for his work on the radio tower matter.

New Business

Parcel C Conservation Easement

Upon recommendation of the Township Solicitor, this agenda item to be discussed in executive session.

Advertising for Equipment Rental and Snow Removal Bids for 2016/2017

Upon motion by Supervisor Majewski, seconded by Supervisor Cohen and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved advertising for bids for Equipment Rental and Snow Removal for 2016/2017.

Appointment of Emergency Declaration Officer for 2016

Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township appointed Supervisor Parry as Emergency Declaration Officer for the remainder of 2016.

Appointment of Valley Forge Sewer Authority Joint Board Liaison for 2016

Upon motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township appointed Supervisor Guerette as the liaison to the Valley Forge Sewer Authority Joint Board for the remainder of 2016.

Approval of Deer Archery Hunting in Pickering Preserve

Supervisor Morrisson moved to approve and authorize deer archery hunting by Whitetail Associates solely within the boundaries of township-owned Pickering Preserve on specific dates from September – January during Bow Hunting season under the rules and regulations of Schuylkill Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission.  The motion was seconded by Supervisor Cohen.  Supervisor Guerette objected to allowing hunting in township-owned open space properties, stating that these properties were purchased for the use and enjoyment of residents, and allowing hunting in public parks could be a liability without some kind of warning to residents that hunting was taking place.  Supervisor Morrisson advised Supervisor Guerette that the practice has been allowed for a number of years without incident.  Supervisor Parry suggested sending a bulletin to residents.  Supervisor Guerette said installing signage would be a better option.  Supervisor Cohen said a hunting approval conditioned upon the installation of signs could be passed.  Mr. Brennan stated that the groups hunting on township-owned property are required to have insurance and added there would have to be some detail on wording, number, and placement of signs.

On motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors approved and authorized the installation of appropriate signage in specific strategic locations in both Pickering Preserve and Valley Park park to alert visitors of deer archery hunting taking place by township permit only.

Supervisor Parry brought back to the table the motion to approve and authorize deer archery hunting by Whitetail Associates solely within the boundaries of township-owned Pickering Preserve on specific dates from September – January during Bow Hunting season under the rules and regulations of Schuylkill Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission.   The motion passed with Supervisor Guerette opposing.

Supervisor Parry moved to approve and authorize deer archery hunting by Mr. Michael Bauer and Mr. Josh Johnson, residents of the township, solely within the boundaries of township-owned Valley Park park on specific dates from September – January during Bow Hunting season under the rules and regulations of Schuylkill Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission. 

Supervisor Guerette again voiced her objection to allowing hunting on township-owned property, stating that she could not reconcile purchasing open space for residents’ enjoyment, then limiting their access to that space because of hunting taking place.  Supervisor Morrisson cited the example of Tredyffrin Township in that hunting is allowed in public spaces with walking paths and other amenities without incident, and the groups authorized to hunt on Schuylkill Township property are responsible and have been hunting in the township for a number of years with no issues.  Supervisor Cohen stated that at this time, Valley Park park is undeveloped and without casual access so allowing hunting this year should not be an issue.  Supervisor Cohen went on to say that as this centrally-located park is developed, the permitting of hunting in this location should be revisited by the Board.

Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and passed, with Supervisor Guerette opposing, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized deer archery hunting by Mr. Michael Bauer and Mr. Josh Johnson, residents of the township, solely within the boundaries of township-owned valley Park park on specific dates from September – January during Bow Hunting season under the rules and regulations of Schuylkill Township and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission.

2017 Minimum Municipal Obligation (“MMO”) for Police and Non-Uniform Pension Plans

Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized the 2017 Financial Requirement and Minimum Municipal Obligation Budget in the amount of $245,448.00 (two hundred forty-five thousand, four hundred forty-eight dollars) for the Police Pension Fund and $45,079.00 (forty-five thousand, seventy-nine dollars) for the Non-Uniform Pension Fund.

2004 Ford F550 Dump Truck Bid Approval

Upon motion by Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Morrisson, and unanimously passed, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the offer of $15,300.00 (fifteen thousand three hundred dollars) from Bobby Gerhart Truck World of Lebanon, Pennsylvania for the 2004 Ford F550 Dump Truck offered for sale on the Municibid website.

Discussion:  Consideration of the Open Space Commission recommendation for a resolution which would encourage developers presenting land development plans to the township which are inclusive of parcels identified as open space on the Township Open Space Map to present their plans to the Open Space Commission for review and comment prior to appearing before the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Cohen opened the discussion with a comment to Mr. Mauch, Chair of the Open Space Commission (“OSC”) stating that while all commissions should have the opportunity, when appropriate, to review development plans, the township should not tie a developer’s hands from the outset but rather negotiate on important points.  Supervisor Morrisson said that he wanted to correct what appeared to be a misunderstanding; neither the township nor the OSC has legal authority to compel a developer to restrict projects based on the township’s open space map.  Supervisor Morrisson added that the OSC’s recommendation is a request to have the opportunity to provide input at the beginning stages of any development review.  Mr. Mauch responded that the open space map was created and approved in 2008/2009 by the Planning Commission, Open Space Commission and the Board of Supervisors as an official component of the open space plan.  Mr. Mauch went on to explain that on the map there are properties that are deemed very desirable for open space preservation therefore the OSC felt it to be appropriate to be play a role similar to other commissions and councils to advise the Board on any proposed development.  Supervisor Parry asked about the selection criteria for open space candidate properties; Mr. Mauch explained that a ranking system, approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2008, is used in order to have an objective way to identify properties that should be open space candidates. Supervisor Parry asked to see a copy of the criteria.  The Township Solicitor voiced his concerns regarding development projects presented to the township by an equitable owner who has a contract to purchase a property subject to zoning approval.  Mr. Brennan went on to say if every equitable owner is required to present its project to the OSC, it may create a situation where efforts would be made to purchase that property from the legal owner rather than the equitable owner thus exposing the township to claims of interference with contractual relations.  Mr. Brennan said that in his opinion a resolution to encourage an action is not a good solution and suggested that an informal notification process be put in place when development plans for properties of interest to the township’s OSC are submitted.   Supervisor Cohen agreed with Mr. Brennan, stating that there are township ordinances in place which govern developers’ appearances before the Planning Commission, Historical Commission and Environmental Advisory Council and, while she supports preservation of open space in the township, she feels the recommended resolution is too arbitrary.   Supervisor Guerette asked Mr. Mauch if the Township Solicitor’s suggestion of an informal notification process would assist the OSC.  Mr. Mauch responded that the OSC’s first priority is that the OSC is engaged in the development process as early as possible and insofar as there is an equitable owner, that the OSC be represented in any meetings on a development project.  Mr. Mauch went on to say in the case of a legal owner presenting a development plan, it would be helpful to have the plan put before the OSC so open space options could be discussed freely.  Supervisor Parry asked Mr. Mauch to present the suggestions made this evening to the OSC and come back to the Board of Supervisors with any comments. 

Resolutions / Ordinances

No agenda items.

Subdivision / Land Development

No agenda items.

Additional Business

No agenda items.

Public Participation

Mr. John Mraz, 34 Meadowbrook Lane, questioned two change orders required by the township on the PASD Early Learning Center project and again expressed his dissatisfaction with the recent interview procedure and the manner in which the selection of the new supervisor was conducted. 

Mr. Peter Mercuri, President Pickering Glen Homeowners Association, expressed concerns regarding the installation, ownership and maintenance of a newly installed stormwater basin as part of the PASD school project in what he believes to be a PennDOT right-of-way, maintenance of property in the right-of-way, and maintenance of the private property adjacent to the Pickering Glen Development.  Supervisor Parry advised that Mr. Mercuri should take his concerns regarding school construction issues to the school district.

William and MaryAnn Mertz, 565 Clothier Springs Road, asked the Board for an update on the request that action be taken regarding the speeding issue on Clothier Springs Road.  Supervisor Parry informed Mr. Mertz that the police continue to monitor the situation. Mr. Mertz reiterated his demand that a speed hump be installed.  Supervisor Cohen responded that section of road was not a good location for a speed hump because of the narrow cartway and hill.  Mr. Mertz disagreed with that finding and repeated his request to have a speed hump installed.  Supervisor Morrisson suggested that once Route 252 was re-opened, the traffic issue would be relieved.  Mr. Mertz disagreed.  Supervisor Parry said the situation would continue to be monitored by the police and roads departments.  Mrs. Mertz added her comments regarding the traffic problem on Clothier Springs Road and her opinion that it was hazardous to the well-being of residents on the road.

Mrs. Donna Meyer, 555 Clothier Springs Road, commented on the hazards of living with the traffic volume and speeds on the road and stated that the problem has been increasing over the last five years.

Supervisor Parry declared a five-minute recess at 8:55 p.m. and called for an executive session immediately thereafter.

Executive Session

An executive session was called to order at 9:00 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, Township Secretary, Mrs. Harbison, and Mr. Robert Mauch, Chair of the Schuylkill Township Open Space Commission. The executive session closed at 9:35 p.m. Supervisor Parry reported that litigation and personnel matters had been discussed.

Supervisor Cohen moved to approve the hiring of special counsel to oversee the Schuylkill Township open space transaction for Parcel C.  Supervisor Morrisson asked to amend the motion to include oversight of future transactions; Supervisors Cohen and Parry disagreed.

On motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Majewski, and passed with Supervisor Parry opposing, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and authorized the hiring of the special counsel recommended by the Open Space Commission, Wendy W. McLean, Esq. of Lentz, Cantor & Massey, Ltd., to act as a solicitor for the Parcel C open space transaction per the terms of the engagement letter dated August 17, 2016.  Supervisor Parry stated his opposition was due to the amount of the fees of the special counsel.

On motion by Supervisor Cohen, seconded by Supervisor Guerette, and passed with Supervisor Parry opposing, the Board of Supervisors of Schuylkill Township approved and accepted the Natural Lands Trust proposal dated August 29, 2016 for the acquisition of a conservation easement on the property known as “Parcel C” provided that the township is not bound to any transaction until a satisfactory conservation easement agreement is signed by Schuylkill Township.  Supervisor Parry said his objection was due to Natural Lands Trust’s fees.

Supervisor Cohen requested that the Open Space Commission consult with Gilmore & Associates regarding the survey completed by Gilmore & Associates, Inc. regarding the value and cost of the easement.  Supervisor Parry recommended to the Board that Butera, Beausang, Cohen & Brennan as Township Solicitor oversee open space transactions.  Supervisor Cohen supported this recommendation.

Adjournment

There being no further business before the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 9:45 p.m. upon motion of Supervisor Parry, seconded by Supervisor Cohen, and unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors.

Next Board of Supervisors’ Meeting

Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting:.......................... Wednesday, October 5, 2016 at 7:30 PM

Respectfully submitted,

Madeline Harbison
Township Secretary