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East Nottingham Township set to reduce open-space tax

09/16/2014 08:47PM ● Published by Lev

By Steven Hoffman

Staff Writer

The East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors will likely soon approve an ordinance that will lower the open-space tax to zero for 2015.

At the Sept. 9 township meeting, Scott Blum, the chairman of the board of supervisors, said that the current open-space millage rate of .125 mills could be reduced to zero for 2015. The township enacted an open space tax of one-half of one mill a decade ago to pay for the costs of open space preservation. Since that time, the township has been able to generate enough revenues with the tax to pay off the debt that had been incurred. With no current plans to purchase the development rights on any other farms, Blum said that it is a good time to lower the tax to zero for next year.

“It will eliminate some of the taxes that we don’t feel the taxpayers need to be paying right now,” Blum said.

The township has the option of changing the open-space tax rate each year so if there comes a time when supervisors identify a property that it would be beneficial to purchase development rights to, the tax can be increased up one-half of one mill.

The township supervisors also discussed ongoing issues with Hickory Hill Group, LLC., which is looking to redevelop the Coates property. The developer barricaded Fulton Road, a very narrow section of road near the intersection of Route 472 and Oxford Road. Fulton Road is township-owned, and the township supervisors want the barricade removed.

John Seitz of Hickory Hill Group LLC said that the road wasn’t in any condition to be utilized by  motorists.

The road had previously been blocked off by the former owners as a way to prevent break-ins and vandalism on the property. Hickory Hill Group LLC has contended that the township effectively abandoned the road. There was a time, when a large housing development was planned nearby, that the township had plans to have the developer make significant improvements to Fulton Road. The housing development never got past the planning stage so the road remained unimproved.

Township solicitor Winifred Sebastian referred to a 1992 resolution that identified the road as a township road and repeated the request to have the barricade removed before the supervisors then authorized the township’s roadmaster and road crew to remove the barrier if the owner won’t do it. The integrity of the road will need to be evaluated.

“The barrier will be removed and then the road will be tended to,” said Blum.

Also at the Sept. 9 meeting, Carey Bresler, the director of the Oxford Public Library, was on hand to thank the township for the contribution that it makes to support the library’s offerings and to update supervisors about a planned expansion.

Bresler said that the expansion will add a new wing to the library that will be used for the adult collection. The children’s library then moves upstairs, leaving the downstairs area to be utilized for meeting space. Bresler said that the extra space is needed for programs.

During public comment, resident Michelle Sapp raised concerns about the safety of school students as they walk from the schools to the housing development. Sapp said that she believes a crosswalk for Wickersham Road would improve the safety for students.

“There is no safe place to cross that street,” said Sapp. “We’re talking about the safety of a lot of children who cross the road.”

The supervisors directed Sebastian to look into the matter and see what options the township has.

Resident Phillip Delp asked the supervisors whether there is a cost level that would be acceptable to them for the township to provide its own policing instead of relying on the State Police. Delp said that there has been a lot of criminal activity in the township, and a township police force might reduce that.

The supervisors indicated that, despite discussing this issue several different times in the past, there are no plans to revisit the idea.

“The cost on the taxpayers is not something that we’re willing to entertain at this time,” Blum said.

The supervisors authorized spending up to $7,500 to look at the possibility of working in cooperation with neighboring Elk Township to get a weight limit restriction for Barren Road, which is heavily traveled by truck traffic moving between Elkton and the Oxford area.

The next township meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 14. The supervisors set Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 5 p.m. for the budget meeting to discuss the spending plan for 2015.

To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

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