By Richard L. Gaw
The New Garden Board of Supervisors agreed at their July 21st meeting to have the Brandywine Conservancy assess its current natural resource protection ordinances, in order to make them more compatible with a new ordinance developed by the Conservancy and the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association that protects riparian buffers.
A riparian buffer is a vegetated area near a stream that is usually forested and helps shade and partially protect a stream from the impact of adjacent land uses. Buffers play a huge role in increasing water quality and environemental benefits and, with the decline of aquatic ecosystems on the rise due to increased development and agricultural use, buffers have become a very common conservation method used to reduce pollution and improve water quality.
The Conservancy will review the township's ordinances at no charge and provide an assessment of existing ordinance to the new model, and make recommendations as to how the township's ordinances can reflect the Conservancy model.
The assessment of New Garden's existing ordinances will be paid for by a grant the Conservancy and Natural Lands Trust received from the William Penn Foundation that will enable them to work with as many as ten local municipalities, in order to improve the protection of riparian buffers located in the Brandywine-Christina Watershed.
John Theilacker, associate director for the Conservancy's Environmental Center, said that the Conservancy has been working the last two years with the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association and the Stroud Water Resource Center to develop new science on riparian buffers; specifically, their value for water quality, habitat and storm water flood control.
In other township business, the board agreed to table discussion on the amount of funding the township will give to the Bayard Taylor Memorial Library in Kennett Square until its Aug. 18 meeting. This decision came after a presentation by Donna Murray and Karen Ammon of the library on the current status of plans for the new library, which is scheduled to be built on Ways Lane in Kennett Square, and will replace the current library on State Street.
During the presentation, Ammon said that the library's board of directors spent six years looking at 20 potential sites, and by January, the choices had whittled down to three: to build at its current site, at the Weinstein lot near the Kennett Area YMCA, or in the area near the Italian-American Center on Ways Lane. She said the main factors involved in deciding on a new location was based on criteria that included site availability, real estate cost, operating cost, cost to build, parking availability, the flexibility of the site, accessibility, past issues with the site and the fundraising potential for the site.
The Ways Lane location, Ammon said, was chosen largely on the basis of the cost it would take to build on the site; the potential for available parking and the availability to build there.
“There were a lot of negative feelings about [the selection of the] Waywood location, and we wanted to make sure that those feelings were in the matrix of the final decision,” Ammon said. “It's about getting people to understand that we operate as a regional library that serves eight municipalities. It's a very big area that we serve, and we need to keep in mind that we need to represent all of our municipalities and their constituents, and we needed to make the best decision to meet the needs of all of those people, as well as use our finances wisely.”
Ammon said that the next phase of the new library – which she estimated will be twice the size of the current 11,000-square-foot library – will be to conduct a feasibility study, followed by a three-year fundraising effort. She estimated that the project would be shovel ready in four to five years.
Township Solicitor Vince Pompo discussed the possibility of establishing a dedicated library tax in the township, by way of two initiatives. The first would involve a referendum to be placed on a voting ballot during a primary election held in the township, in the form of a question that would ask citizens if they would consider adopting a dedicated library tax.
The second means by which a library tax could be established would be through a citizen-initiated petition calling for a dedicated library tax, which would be circulated throughout the township and then presented to the supervisors, asking them to pass the petition along to the Board of Elections, in order to have a referendum added to ballots. Library tax rates, Pompo said, would be determined based on specific millage that would have to be identified in the referendum question.
The board approved Ordinance No. 208, which enters New Garden into an agreement with Oxford, Kennett Square and Parkesburg boroughs to lease a new target practice firing range at the New Garden Flying Field, which will be used by the police departments for each of these boroughs. The agreement establishes a user fee breakdown for the firing range, and provides that each municipality assumes the same amount of liability for their own officers, while they are on New Garden Township property.
The board also approved Ordinance No. 209, that increases the membership of the township's Open Space Review Board from five to seven. The board also approved Ordinance Nos. 210 and 211, which amends pension plans for the township's police department and employees.