MEETING DATE: August 22, 2019 -- Public Work Session

Duly advertised in The Pottstown Mercury and posted at

The Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors held their public work session on Thursday, August 22, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.  This is an informal meeting to discuss township related business with the public without making any motions or voting on any discussed items.  The work session was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Board Chair Martha Majewski.

The working meeting’s agenda was a review of certain Township Zoning Ordinance Changes and/or Improvements to Chapter 370, Subdivision and Land Development Changes/Improvements-Chapter 320, Traffic Impact Fee/Act 209 Study; the Regional Comprehensive Plan Update, and tree removal/replacement regulations.  In attendance were Supervisors Susan Guerette, Martha Majewski, Jim Morrisson, and Fred Parry.  Also attending was Township Manager, E.J. Mentry and Township Secretary, Madeline Harbison.  Supervisor Mark Donovan was absent.

Traffic Impact Fees (“TIF”) (Act 209 Study) – Mr. Mentry reviewed the information that was discussed at the previous month’s workshop with Chad Dixson of McMahon Associates regarding the requirements and steps involved with conducting an Act 209 Study and the composition of the Transportation Impact Fee Advisory Committee (TIFAC).  Mr. Mentry presented a draft list and map of potential study intersections that was provided by Mr. Dixson for consideration to be included in the Act 209 Study.  The map as presented included 21 potential study intersections spread throughout the entire Township.  Mr. Mentry stated that he anticipated receiving a proposal from McMahon the following week, and that the cost would be partially dependent on the number of intersections included in the study area.  This was the Board’s chance to review the list and offer any feedback, i.e. intersections that should be added or removed.  Mr. Mentry stated that intersections can be added or removed after the study commences and at the direction of the TIFAC, and that it may result in a change order to the original approved proposal.  Discussion ensued regarding the intersections shown and the Board agreed that the intersection of Valley Park Road and Clothier Springs Road should be added.  A few other intersections were mentioned, and Mr. Mentry was instructed to ask Mr. Dixson if they were considered and then report back to the Board.  Supervisor Morrisson stated that there may only be a marginal benefit to the Township for moving forward with this study considering how much it will cost and the amount in impact fees that would be collected.  Supervisor Guerette responded that if the study costs $75,000 and the Township gets one big development in a couple years, the impact fees could be over $100,000 just from one development, and then the study would have already more than paid for itself.  Mr. Mentry reminded the Board that the TIFAC must be in place prior to beginning the Act 209 Study process and asked if there was any progress made on recruiting members to serve.  Supervisor Majewski asked Mr. Mentry to follow up with McMahon to get some type of narrative or info. sheet with talking points for recruitment.  

Phoenixville Regional Comprehensive Plan Update:  The updated Regional Comprehensive Plan (the “Plan”) will be before the Board at a public hearing on September 4, 2019.  Mr. Ed Theurkauff, planning consultant for the Phoenixville Regional Planning Committee, will be present for the hearing.  A Resolution of Adoption from the Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors will be required; the Board should consider whether it plans to adopt the Plan in just a regional capacity or if it wishes to adopt it as the Township’s municipal comprehensive plan as well.  Discussion ensued regarding the pros and cons of adoption as a municipal plan.  Supervisor Guerette commented she was not comfortable adopting the Plan in a municipal capacity until it has been more thoroughly reviewed against the Township’s Zoning Ordinance.  Supervisor Majewski suggested the Township should adopt the Plan in a regional capacity at this time and revisit its use as the municipal plan at a later date.

Tree Removal/Replacement Regulations – Supervisor Guerette advised the Board that the proposed ordinance has expanded considerably beyond her original intent of tree replacement in the zoning ordinance with a simple permitting process.  She asked the Board if it wished to continue in the more in-depth direction with wide-spread protection of shrubs, hedgerows, etc., in addition to trees.  Mr. Mentry suggested the Board explore a stand-alone ordinance.  Supervisor Morrisson advised that a stand-alone ordinance does not necessarily carry the same protection as a zoning ordinance.  Mr. Mentry proposed that Natural Lands be engaged to consult on the draft tree ordinance; possibly providing a template and/or language for a simplified tree protection ordinance.  The Board instructed Mr. Mentry to request a proposal from Natural Lands.

Zoning Ordinance Allowed Use Provisions – Mr. Mentry provided the Board with the Summary of Allowed Uses included in Township Ordinance Chapter 370 Zoning and indicated, as follow-up to the discussion at the July 25th work session, that while certain uses are not specifically allowed, there is language allowing “Any lawful purpose not elsewhere in Ch.370. Zoning”; however, this language applies only to the Light Industrial District and only by Special Exception approval of the Zoning Hearing Board.  The Board expressed its concern about this special exception allowance and requested the Township Manager to investigate the legalities of disallowing certain uses in Schuylkill Township under the aegis of the Regional Comprehensive Plan.

Chester County Planning Commission (“CCPC”) Ordinance Review Letters – Mr. Mentry summarized the CCPC review letters for the Conservation SALDO amendments, the Streets SALDO amendment, and the Accessory Use Zoning amendment.  Mr. Mentry advised the Board that the CCPC did comment on the Conservation Zoning amendment, but it may just be a matter of semantics; he is discussing it with the Township Solicitor.  All four ordinances will be on the September 4th meeting for advertising approval.

Short-Term Rentals Regulations – Supervisor Majewski commented that she does not take issue with the concept of short-term rentals, however, in practice there are many pitfalls which may be encountered, and which may be disturbing to the neighbors/communities adjacent to these types of rentals.  Supervisor Majewski put the question to the Board of whether it wishes to regulate short-term rentals; giving some thought to how the regulations would be enforced.  Supervisor Morrisson suggested this discussion topic be tabled until the Township Manager can do some research on short-term rental municipal codes in the 5-county Southeastern Pennsylvania region.  The Board concurred.

Other Zoning and SALDO Changes – Mr. Mentry stated that he has no update on the status of updating the Township’s Park, Recreation, and Open Space Plan and Fees-in-Lieu.  He advised that a full update would cost approximately $50,000 while a minor update could run between $10,000 - $15,000, but that the Board really needed to hear from a Certified Recreation Planner to decide which option is best.  Mr. Mentry is working with Ann Hutchinson of Natural Lands to schedule a date with her and a Certified Recreation Planner to meet with the Board.  Mr. Mentry suggested that since he is unavailable for the September 26 workshop, that meeting be cancelled and rescheduled at a date to be determined that works with everyone’s availability.  The board concurred.

Additional Business

  • Proposed police vehicle purchase – Per the Board’s instruction to investigate the purchase of a more fuel-efficient vehicle than the proposed Tahoe, the Chief of Police has located a 2019 Ford Interceptor sedan.  The vehicle must be ordered now, and Mr. Mentry requested permission to do so with the Board ratifying the purchase at the September 4, 2019 meeting.  The Board concurred.
  • Valley Park Park – Mr. Mentry advised the Board that a small field change has been made to one of the end loops of the walking path.  Because of the soil quality, it is not possible to extend this section of the path to the original termination/loop point; it has been cut short by approximately 30 feet.  The trail is still ADA compliant and Mr. Mentry said he will notify the Grantors of the change.
  • Valley Forge Sewer Authority (“VFSA”) sanitary main repairs on Pawling Road – the VFSA plans to start the Pawling Road repair project on September 11, working only at night up to September 13 and completing the work with 24-hour work crews through September 15th.
  • Township Line Road reconstruction project – The stabilization of Township Line Road will be completed, and the road reopened on August 23rd – a week ahead of schedule.
  • 2019/2020 Equipment Rental/Snow Removal Contract – the 2018/2019 contract expires at the end of September; the Board will be asked to approve the advertisement of a request for bids at the September meeting.
  • 2020 Budget – Mr. Mentry requested that budget review be the only agenda item at the October 24th work session.
  • 135 Valley Park Road – Mr. Mentry explained that a mini sewage treatment plant is being installed on this property due to a failed septic system.  All PaDEP approvals have been obtained but the DEP sewage module requires a municipal resolution.  As this property is in the flood district, the installation may also require special exception approval from the Zoning Hearing Board – the Zoning Officer is investigating.

Supervisor Majewski asked to present a two-minute report as she will not be present at the September 4th Board meeting and she was the only Supervisor present at the Historical Commission (“HC”) meeting on 19th.  The HC has submitted is 2020 budget request to the Township Manager.  Mr. Conover and his attorney attended the meeting to present their conditional use application.  Mr. John Gregory, Vice Chair of the HC, will write the HC’s recommendation to the Board and provide it prior to the September 4th meeting.  The HC voted to table the Valley Park Park rail installation project to next year.  Supervisor Morrisson objected strenuously to this last item; stating that the HC did not have the authority to table the project; the money has been budgeted and he has already started the process of contacting vendors and contractors for the project.  The Board informed Mr. Morrisson that no proposals, orders or contracts for goods or services for this project have been approved by the Board and no invoices for unapproved items would be paid by the Township.  Supervisor Morrisson was invited to present a proposal for the rail installation project at the September 4th Board meeting.

Supervisor Majewski advised the Board that she would like to pursue a PECO Green Region Grant for signage for the new municipal Valley Park.  The Board concurred.

An executive session was called at 9:05 p.m. for discussion on certain litigation matters.  The public meeting was reconvened at 9:50 p.m.

The meeting adjourned at 9:55 p.m.

The next work session originally scheduled for September 26, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. will be cancelled and rescheduled on a date to be determined.

Respectfully submitted,

Madeline Harbison
Township Secretary