The Schuylkill Township Planning Commission held their regularly scheduled meeting at 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at the Township hall. Members of the Planning Commission present were Mr. Morris Quigg, Mr. Eric Rahe, Mr. Michael Bauer, Mr. Jim Lombardi and Mr. Curt English. Mr. Jim Reading was unable to attend the meeting. Mr. Quigg chaired the meeting. Also in attendance were Mr. Parry, Mrs. Cohen, Mrs. Majewski and Mr. Morrisson from the Board of Supervisors.
Reorganization: On motion by Mr. Lombardi, seconded by Mr. Rahe, and passed, Mr. Reading was named Chairman of the Planning Commission for 2016. On motion by Mr. Lombardi, seconded by Mr. Bauer, Mr. Quigg was named Vice-Chair of the Planning Commission for 2016. On motion by Mr. Rahe and seconded by Mr. Quigg, Mr. English was named Planning Commission liaison to the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee for 2016.
On motion by Mr. Rahe and seconded by Mr. Lombardi, and passed, the Planning Commission approved the minutes of December 16, 2015.
Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan – Discussion continued from the December 16, 2015 Planning Commission meeting regarding the Township adopting the current Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan dated 2008 as its Municipal Comprehensive Plan, and whether the Township would be interested in doing so with an updated Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan. Mr. Ed Theurkauf, land planning consultant to the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee (PRPC), was present to aide in the discussion. Mr. Theurkauf stated that the current Regional Comprehensive Plan (RCP) was created in conformity with each member municipal comprehensive plan. He advised that a municipality adopting the RCP as its municipal comp plan takes all of the boiler plate items such as demographics, transportation watersheds, public facilities and infrastructure and puts it all in one document so that it is easier to deal with regionally since some of the information transcends borders. The RCP can promote a regionally based approach to land use that can strengthen the position of each municipality through the power of alliances. He stated that there is flexibility when adopting the RCP as the municipal plan since a member municipality can adopt individual supplements to the RCP for unique needs. The RCP is a policy document and does not have a regulatory aspect to it.
Mr. Theurkauf advised that Chester County likes to see the RCP adopted as the municipal plan because it shows a stronger cooperative effort of the PRPC. The County has been supportive of the PRPC and has indicated its preference for adoption of regional comprehensive plans by member municipalities. Policy decisions regarding the PRPC or the RCP are made unanimously by the committee. Mr. Theurkauf stated that there is a savings in adopting the RCP since the cost to update the document is shared by member municipalities and is not carried by a single municipality updating its own plan.
Mr. Theurkauf advised that the RCP gives each member municipality more credence to what they are doing individually. He stated that he does not see a downside to adopting the RCP as the municipal comp plan. Mr. Theurkauf stated that the PRPC will discuss pros and cons at their January monthly meeting. He advised that land use regulations would still be regulated by individual municipalities through their zoning ordinances Mrs. Cohen advised that she feels there are more pros than cons in adopting the RCP. Mr. Theurkauf stated that with all member municipalities on board to adopt the RCP as its municipal plan it would help strengthen the grant application.
Mr. Rahe questioned if the Township would want more density in a certain area would adopting the RCP not allow the Township to do that. He asked how the Township can adopt a plan that may not fit with the current thinking. He also questioned if the PRPC was there to promote consistent policy or were they a group advisory. Mr. Theurkauf stated that policy and advisory go hand-in-hand. Mr. Morrisson stated that planning is all about density and a planning document and zoning ordinance need to reflect each other. He advised that density drives open space. Mr. Morrisson stated that the current growth boundary in the RCP is not aligned with the Township zoning and any revision to the RCP should be looked at carefully. Mr. Theurkauf stated that the RCP defines what the community values are which turns into policy that regulatory documents (Zoning Ordinance) follow.
Mr. Bauer questioned why the Regional Planning Implementation Agreement was updated and signed prior to the RCP itself. Mr. Theurkauf stated that review thresholds were found not to be up to the task and the implementation agreement needed update. He advised that the Borough of Phoenixville has yet to sign the updated implementation agreement so the PRPC is still operating under the 2008 agreement. Mr. Bauer questioned how many other regional groups in Pennsylvania have adopted the RCP as the municipal comp plan. Mr. English stated that he was in favor of global planning.
Mr. Parry stated he is on the fence about adopting the RCP as the municipal comp plan. He questioned the legalities of it and whether or not it would ultimately be good for the Township. He questioned if the Township would lose its individuality or autonomy.
At this point in the meeting, the Planning Commission called an executive session. Mr. Bob Mauch from the Open Space Commission and Mr. Morrisson from the Board of Supervisors attended the executive session.
Upon the commission’s return, Mr. Quigg stated that a potential 41 +/- acres conservation easement acquisition was discussed for Parcel C. The consensus of the Planning Commission was to send a letter of support to Chester County for potential Open Space Conservation Easement grant funding for Parcel C.
There being no further discussion, the Planning Commission adjourned the meeting at 9:30 pm on motion by Mr. English, seconded by Mr. Lombardi, and passed.
Mary R. Bird
Next Meeting: February 17, 2016