Duly advertised in The Pottstown Mercury and posted at www.schuylkilltwp.com
The Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors held their public work session on Thursday, July 25, 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; Stormwater Improvements and the Route 23 Sidewalk project. In attendance were Supervisors Mark Donovan, Susan Guerette, Martha Majewski, Jim Morrisson, and Fred Parry. Also attending was Township Manager, E.J. Mentry.
Traffic Impact Fees (“TIF”) (Act 209 Study) – Mr. Chad Dixson, A.I.C.P., P.P., Senior Project Manager at McMahon Associates, Inc. addressed the Board on the TIF/Act 209 Study implementation process. Mr. Dixson briefly discussed the administrative requirements of a TIF program, stating that standard accounting procedures are followed, separate accounts must be maintained which must be audited annually. Mr. Dixson stressed that impact fees collected can only be used for capacity improvements at intersections, i.e., turn lanes, signals, timing, road widening, new connector roads, etc. No fee monies may be used for safety or transit improvements. No more than 50% of fees collected may be used on state roads. A capital improvement plan must be submitted with the schedule. Mr. Dixson then touched on the Act 209 Study process, noting that a portion of the study costs may be reimbursed from TIF funds. There are three (3) reports required from the study: a Land Use Assumption report (non-reimbursable); a Roadway Sufficiency Analysis; and a Capital Improvements Plan (non-reimbursable). Once the Resolution to implement the study is adopted, the municipality has 18 months to complete it. The total cost is between $50,000 - $100,000. The study may be phased over 2 budget years. The first step is the appointment of an advisory council of between 7 – 15 members, 40% of the members must be from the building community who live or work in the Township. No staff or supervisors may serve on the council. Council members must be named in the Resolution to implement the study. In many municipalities, planning commission or other municipal commission members with an understanding of development activity serve on the advisory council. The mandate for the advisory council is to review the work on the various reports and make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. The council meetings are public and are typically advertised. The Municipal Planning Code is very explicit on the studies requirements and advisory council capacity. The studies also need to be updated regularly; how often the updates should be made can be found in Act 209. Mr. Mentry asked what information would be needed in order to issue a request for proposals. Mr. Dixson advised that a certain number of intersections be identified with a provision that the list may be expanded, and the agreement amended. Supervisor Guerette questioned whether the Act 209 Study reports could be used against the Township by developers. Mr. Dixson advised the Board that this was not the case; municipalities cannot require off-site improvements and developers must adhere to all Township SLDO and Zoning ordinances as well as PennDOT regulations. Mr. Dixson did say that because the process and discussions take place in public meetings, it is not unknown for developers to throw their plans over the wall before the TIF is implemented. Supervisor Guerette advised her fellow Board members that as much pre-work as possible should take place behind the scenes so word of the Township’s intent to implement TIF does not get out to developers. Further discussion ensued regarding the study process and the Board requested that a proposal from McMahon Associates be presented at the September Board meeting.
Littering Ordinance: Supervisor Majewski explained that the request to enact a littering ordinance in the township came from the Environmental Advisory Council and briefly explained the circumstances behind the request. Mr. Mentry advised the Board that the Township would be best served by continuing under the State’s penalties crime code thereby giving our police officers more effective enforcement powers. Mr. Mentry went on to say that “No Littering” signs would be installed in the Township at known problem areas. The Board concurred.
Signs – Supervisor Guerette asked Mr. Mentry why the “Save Sedgeley Farms” signs were still posted throughout the Township stating it was time for them to come down. Mr. Mentry was instructed to contact Claudia Kiernan from the Save Sedgley Farm group to have the signs removed.
Tree Removal/Replacement Ordinance: Mr. Mentry advised the Board that, after significant review and comments from the Environmental Advisory Council and the Planning Commission, it has become clear that the recommended East Pikeland tree ordinance is not a good fit for Schuylkill Township. Supervisor Morrisson concurred, stating that the current draft is not ready for serious consideration; there are too many inconsistencies with current Zoning/SLCO and inconsistencies with definitions and other wording. Mr. Mentry informed the Board that Natural Lands can do a review of our current Zoning/SLDO in re trees and is willing to provide a proposal for the project. The Board instructed Mr. Mentry to request the proposal but to also continue refining the current draft. Supervisor Guerette said she would serve as the collection point for comments and recommendations so everyone would be working from the same version of the draft ordinance.
The Board instructed the Township Manager to also move ahead with Accessory and Setback ordinance amendments.
Other Ordinance Amendments
Discussion ensued regarding various items to be included on the August Board meeting agenda:
An executive session was called at 9:15 p.m. for discussion on certain litigation matters. The public meeting was reconvened at 9:45 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.
The next work session date is August 22, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.