By Steven Hoffman
Kennett Square Borough Council voted 6-1 in favor of revisions to the town's stormwater-management plan at the April 7 council meeting, completing the process of revamping the regulations in accordance with Pennsylvania Act 167.
Work on revising the stormwater-management plan began in 2010, and as recently as Feb. 18 council opted not to approve the significant changes until certain details could be worked out.
Engineer Mike Ellis explained that the state's goal with Pennsylvania Act 167 was to develop county-wide stormwater-management plans that are based on model plans rather than having 15 or 20 different watersheds in a given county. These plans would be uniform throughout a county, with a set of standards that each municipality would include in its individual stormwater-management plan. It is up to each individual municipality to decide whether its regulations will be more restrictive than the county-wide plan.
The proposed stormwater-management ordinance that Kennett Square Borough Council was considering was more restrictive than the model plan in several ways. The one that generated the most debate at the Feb. 18 meeting involved how much land could be disturbed by improvements before a property owner would need to seek a site survey, soil testing, and other engineering work. In the county-wide plan, a property owner could add up to 1,000 square feet of impervious surface changes, while the borough’s proposed plan reduced that to 500 square feet. There was concern among some council members that this might be too restrictive, especially if homeowners wanted to do some landscape work or gardening on their property that shouldn't be subject to the additional governmental scrutiny.
Ellis assured council that gardening for the home is an exempt activity, as is maintenance of existing landscaping.
Furthermore, the more restrictive regulations have an advantage because, in a borough of Kennett Square's size, a property owner can make a change to an impervious surface that ends up impacting a neighbor's, and it is better to have professionals monitor the potential impact before the project is completed. Borough council always has the authority to approve waivers for projects on a case-by-case basis for those smaller projects that clearly won't impact neighboring properties.
With some of the concerns addressed, council was agreeable to moving forward with the approval, voting 6-1 in favor of the revisions. Council member Chip Plumley III cast the dissenting vote.
Council member Geoff Bosley said that he thought the revised plan was a fair compromise for the borough's residents.
In other business at the April 7 meeting, borough manager Brant Kucera said that he will soon make a presentation to borough council about some possible uses for the former Kennett fire station site on Broad Street.
Kucera explained that the building, which has long been vacant, is not indicative of what the rest of the downtown area is like, and some sort of redevelopment should take place—even if the borough itself has to be the impetus behind the redevelopment.
Although no one was certain how long the building has been vacant, several officials said that it's been at least seven years. The building was the home to a restaurant and an auto store after the fire company relocated.
Kucera also announced that the borough now has a new Facebook page, and he encouraged residents to use it to stay informed about borough happenings.
In her report to borough council, Historic Kennett Square executive director Mary Hutchins said that the first-ever Evening of the Arts event that took place last weekend attracted more than 1,000 people—more than double what officials had expected.
“The event exceeded all of our expectations,” Hutchins said proudly. She explained that 31 local artists took part in the Evening of the Arts and they sold more than $12,000 in artwork, with Historic Kennett Square getting to keep a portion of that for organizing the event.
“We do look forward to making this an annual event,” Hutchins said.
“I thought it was well-organized and very well-attended,” said Mayor Matt Fetick. “I thought it was a really nice night."
Sunrise service on Easter Sunday
The community is invited to a special sunrise service that will be held on the top level of the parking garage in Kennett Square on Easter Sunday, April 20, starting at 6 a.m. The sunrise service, which has become a tradition over the last seven or eight years, is non-denominational and everyone is invited to attend.