Ways Lane development plan gets board approval
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
December 16 turned out to be a date when the Kennett Township Board of Supervisors closed one door to 2015, but opened two more to the township's future.
At its monthly meeting, one that bid 'Goodbye' to long-time supervisor Robert Hammaker, the supervisors approved the township's 2016 budget and gave the go-ahead for development in a largely under-developed district of Kennett Square.
After taking another look at the projected revenues and expenditures in the township's six primary funds, the supervisors signed off on a slightly modified 2016 budget, one that shaves off about $2 million of the township's fund balance, from $10 million to about $8 million, largely due to increased expenditures anticipated to come from open space purchases next year.
In reviewing the final tabulations, Moore said that the revenues for the township's general fund are expected to be 3.4 million, while its anticipated expenditures are expected to be $3.9 million. Of those expenditures , $546,000 will be designated to pay off the township's sewer loan, while $1.9 million of the general fund will pay for capital projects next year. About $90,000 will be targeted toward the start of a sustainable development office in the township next year, which will expect to staff one part-time employee who will work with neighboring agencies and townships to explore possible collaborations in smart growth and conservation.
While the beginning balance of the township's open space fund is expected to be $4.6 million, it expects to spend about $2.5 million from the fund in 2016, primarily designated toward the purchase of two easements the township expects to make, that total about 120 acres.
By a vote of 3-0, the supervisors approved a preliminary land development plan that calls for the construction of 38 mushroom houses on 15.5 acres between Cypress and Broad streets in Kennett Square. The area, which if developed will comprise a total of 152,000 square feet of workspace, has been zoned for light industrial development.
The plan, originally submitted by Kennett Square Specialties [KSS] in September, received a recommendation from the township's Planning Commission on Nov. 12, with eight conditions -- all of which will be discussed by the Commission prior to final approval.
A commitment to bring a business to the Ways Lane vicinity is likely to be welcome news to elected officials and community leaders in the Kennett Borough and adjacent Kennett Township, who have spent several years discussing ideas and concepts designed to stimulate the economic vibrancy of the long-time brownfield.
Despite the conditions specified by the Commission that KSS still needs to hurdle, Lou Caputo, the co-owner of KSS [along with co-owner Herb Guest], and the applicant in the submission of the preliminary plan, has told the township that should the plan receive final approval and construction begin, the project will include major improvements to the Ways Lane thoroughfare, in order to make the road more passable. The primary entrance to the proposed site will be from Cypress Street.
Caputo told the supervisors and residents that because the business will not a compost-based farm, it will not emit odors, but will be used to produce exotic mushrooms. KSS is one of the nation's leading purveyors of fine exotic mushrooms and substrates, including the production of Shiitake, Oyster, Portabello, Reishi, Pioppino and Lion's Mane mushrooms.
In other business, Township Manager Lisa Moore said the township is looking to incorporate several ordinances, which are expected to be discussed at the Planning Commission's meeting on Jan. 12.
The first would regulate outdoor dining in the township; the second will define some terms used in township ordinances, such as "open space," "common open space," "passive open space," "noise control," and amend other definitions that the township feels need better clarification.
The third ordinance will define "municipal use" and "public use" as applied to township zoning districts; the fourth ordinance will amend the cart way width, currently at 18 feet in width, to 24 feet in width, in accordance with width regulations in place in other municipal codes; and the fifth ordinance will be amended in order to change the size regulation of parking stalls in the township, from its current 9 1/2 feet by 17 1/2 feet size, to 10 feet by 18 feet.
The township will continue to tighten the wording on its recently-passed ordinance that places standards on the inclusion of mixed-use and town homes in the township. Finally, the township will draft an ordinance that regulates the type of businesses that can be opened in the township.
A hearing to discuss the installation of a distillery on the Miller property in the township has been scheduled for Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. A Zoning Hearing Board hearing for the Kahn property has also been scheduled for the same date, at the township building.
The supervisors approved the start of a traffic impact fee study in the township, which will allow the township to incorporate a per-trip fee in new developments within the township. The fees will go toward payment for road improvements in each development.
The township will host a seminar on soil preservation in January, at the township building.
Kennett Township Police Chief Lydell Nolt commended Officer Amanda Wenrich, who has completed a training course specializing in interview and interrogation, which Nolt said will help Wenrich develop her skills as an investigator. Nolt said that officers Johnathan Ortiz and Jeffrey Call have both completed advanced roadside impaired driving enforcement training, which provides officers with tools and resources to detect drivers who are driving under the influence of drugs and prescription medication.
Nolt also said that in light of the recent shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., his department will be supplying an officer to Chester County's Emergency Response Team, which will allow the township, in the event of a similar incident, to have as many as 65 fully-trained officers dispatched to the site of the incident, within 45 minutes of an emergency call.
In addition, Nolt will be conducting an emergency drill in the township building, for township employees, and working to develop a procedure chart on how to identify and address emergency situations.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .