Penn supervisors tackle several issues
By Nancy Johnson
Several residents of the Ovations community made their
presence known at Penn Township’s Oct. 1 Board of Supervisors meeting.
They expressed their concerns over a retention basin in the development that is basically a big, muddy mess, despite their repeated requests to the developer to fix it.
“I am far from an engineer,” said supervisor Victor Mantegna, “but I think it needs a retaining wall. Why has no one explored that?”
Board chairman Curtis Mason said, “We have a copy of the letter sent to Baker [Residential, the developer] asking them to address it immediately.”
“Legally, we have done all we can do,” Mantegna added. “However, we still are holding money on them.”
“With the money that’s been wasted, it could have been fixed right several times,” Mason said. “The hammer we have is dedication.” He explained that the township will not take dedication, which includes responsibility for maintaining and plowing roads, until everything on the engineer’s punch list is complete. The bonds held in escrow are to assure that all public improvements are completed to the board’s satisfaction.
The supervisors voted unanimously to approve a plan that would make funding for West Grove Ambulance services more equitable among the seven municipalities it serves. The contribution amount would be based equally on ambulance calls, population, and millage. If approved by all the municipalities, Penn’s contribution for ambulance services for the upcoming year would be $90,254, as opposed to the $102,000 they paid in 2014. Penn will be contributing an additional $129,908 for fire company services.
The board also approved an expenditure of $5,728 for the Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management’s (AGREM) locally managed information AM radio station that has been discussed at recent meetings. Each of the five municipalities served by AGREM are being asked to contribute based on their population to a start-up cost of $32,336. Years two and three will drop to a total cost of $9,242 and $7,770, respectively.
“Hopefully, Penn is leading the pack as we always have with AGREM,” Mantegna said.
Skip McGrew, chairman of the Planning Commission, reported that they had reviewed a sketch plan by Phillips Mushrooms, and that the facility would use a new technology in growing mushrooms.
Jim Angelucci, general manager of Phillips Mushroom Farms, offered a brief introduction at the meeting during the public comment period. He explained that the company, which has had a facility in Kennett Square for many years, as well as one in Maryland, will submit land development plans later in the month to build a new mushroom growing facility on State Road. He expects the project to be built in sections, and that the farm will bring 100 to 125 jobs to Penn. “There is no composting,” he stressed. “And the spent substrate will be hauled out of state.”
Angelucci said that they had contacted all the neighbors in the vicinity and explained their plans, and had even invited them to visit Phillips’ farm in Warwick, Md., that uses the same technology. “We are being completely open,” he said. “There is a preconceived notion of what mushroom production is, and this isn’t it.”. He then extended the invitation to the board. “We can get a bus and all go see it,” he said with a chuckle.
Bob Grabus of the Chester County Economic Development Council addressed the board briefly about the goals of the Route 1 Corridor Economic Development Committee. Noting that the corridor “really bisects the township,” he praised Penn for having “done the most to diversify your tax base and workforce.”
When he asked, “What can we do for the township to help you continue your growth?” several of the supervisors answered simultaneously, “Fix our intersection!”
“Seriously,” Mason said, “what we need from you is support and help in getting funding for the Route 796 and Baltimore Pike intersection.”
“Absolutely,” Grabus responded. “The intersection is a huge priority for us as well.”
Also related to transportation, Tim Phelps, director of the Transportation Management Association of Chester County, presented an update on the SCOOT -- Southern Chester County Organization on Transportation -- bus system. He noted that there are eight stops in Penn Township, among them the Shoppes of Jennersville, Luther House, and Jennersville Hospital. Last year, more than 14,000 people rode the buses, many of them being seniors, who ride for free. Phelps added that the cost to run the buses -- $391,000 last year -- is only partially covered by state and county grants, which is why he is asking municipalities for any help they can give.
“Seniors ride free?” Mason asked. “Then to me, it’s a no-brainer, as we have a lot of seniors.” He asked Phelps to prepare a budget and a report on the number of senior riders in Penn to help the board decide a contribution amount.
Phelps also presented a preview of the new look and name the buses will soon be carrying. The buses, which are owned by Krapf’s, will be wrapped with a green-and-white pattern and labeled CHESCOBUS. The design allows for advertising on the buses, which helps defray the cost of running the service.