Franklin Township passes chicken ordinance, settles issues of tree maintenance
● By J. Chambless
By John Chambless
Franklin Township residents who have 30,000 square feet of property or more will be permitted to keep chickens, after the passage of an updated ordinance by the Board of Supervisors on Jan. 20.
The new section of Ordinance 2016-01, which has been extensively discussed at several past meetings, was brought up by board chairman John Auerbach and seconded by supervisor Penny Schenk.
Historical Commission chairman Paul Lagasse reported that the Historical Commission discussed the new ESNG Pipeline route, which places the pipeline expansion in the existing right-of-way, rather than the originally proposed route. There will be a public meeting in March about the proposed Route 896 roadwork and its effect on historic properties, and there will be a follow-up letter sent to owners of historic properties about the proposed expansion and repaving work. The Historical Commission also said that the artifacts found during the pipeline digging should be returned to the township.
Brent Van Lith was unanimously appointed to fill a vacancy on the Planning Commission. His term will expire on Dec. 31, 2016. Auerbach reviewed Van Lith’s qualifications as a civil engineer, and expressed his thanks for his volunteer commitment.
Recent legislation has been passed to allow the addition of alternate members to serve on the Planning Commission, similar to alternates on the Zoning Hearing Board. Having alternates in place avoids the cancellations of Planning Commission meetings because of lack of a quorum. The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution which allows for three alternates to serve. Penelope Schenk will serve a four-year term, Zach Elwyn will serve a three-year term, and Paul Lagasse will serve a two-year term. Elwyn is also interested in serving as a full-time member of the Planning Commission. Auerbach said that if a vacancy occurs on the commission, Elwyn would most likely be appointed to fill it.
The issue of who owns trees in the right-of-way of township roads, and who trims or removes them when they are dead or creating a hazard, was also discussed. Township solicitor Mark Thompson said that the township is permitted to do work in the right-of-way, but does not own the right-of-way. Trees in the right-of-way belong to the property owner and are the responsibility of the property owner. Beginning immediately, when the township becomes aware of a tree that needs attention, the resident will be notified in writing. If the resident doesn’t take care of the tree within 30 days, the township will remove it or trim it, and bill the resident for the cost of the work. This ordinance will be adopted at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
Trees that present an immediate danger will be dealt with immediately by the township. The township will continue to trim subdivision trees that have grown into traffic lanes, or fallen onto or across roads.
Looking ahead, chairman Auerbach reviewed the Capital Plan for 2016 and said the board would like to address winter road maintenance, a road program to include Church Hill Road, a drainage project on Oak Tree Lane, installing guiderails on Laurel Bridge Road, and making improvements to the Municipal Office site. The office site improvements include developing screening and moving contractor’s piles and recycling bins, improving the sheds next to the office building, repairing the wall which allows salt to leach in from the adjacent storage shed, heating the back room, and removing the filing cabinets from the public meeting room.
The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be held Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. For more information, visit www.franklintownship.us.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email firstname.lastname@example.org.