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Franklin supervisors discuss amending vaguely worded ordinance

05/23/2016 11:18AM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

At the May 18 meeting of the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors, board chairman John Auerbach said that a pending property sale has revealed a need to amend a township ordinance that is vaguely worded.

The 19.3-acre Daybreak Farm on Chesterville Road is for sale, and the prospective buyer wants to add a second home to the property, which already has a farmhouse, pool and barn. The home would be for family members, and not rented out.

“This is a policy discussion to find out what the board wants to do,” Auerbach said. “Since our zoning officer has determined that [adding a second home] is within the ordinance, I believe that's going to be approved. But it brings up some issues we've had in the past – some inconsistencies throughout the ordinance. For the current property, I don't think we're going to do anything other than allow it. The proposal looks entirely suitable.

“My concern is how far can it go,” Auerbach continued. “We have a lot of ordinances that are written in a vague manner, and they've created nothing but trouble in the township. My position is that you state a particular position, but if you want to get some leeway, you can put a conditional use provision in there so the board can look at a specific situation and approve or disapprove, based on conditional use, rather than make the wording vague. The concern I have is the way the ordinance is written. How many properties could you allow? Could this ordinance, as written, facilitate a mini-development? The wording right now isn't particularly clear. We have some work to do.”

Auerbach said he would not hold up the Daybreak Farm property sale, since the ordinance revision may take months to accomplish.

“If you were going to put three houses on there, I'd have an issue with that and probably make you wait,” Auerbach told the property owners, who were in the audience. “We need to work on the ordinance, but you don't want to wait for this.”

The board also discussed the needed renovations for the township office.

“We want to do these things incrementally,” Auerbach said. “For one thing, we can't afford to do them all at once. The general idea is to make this room more friendly for meetings with the public.”

Auerbach said that the most pressing issue is that the small bathroom in the public meeting area is not ADA compliant. There is an ADA compliant bathroom, but it is located past some offices and is not easy to get to.

“The next value-adding step, besides the bathroom, would be to rehab the offices,” Auerbach said. “And the next one would be the wall. We've got a wall that separates a salt storage bin from the office, and it doesn't really separate it well. Salt comes through the wall in condensation, bacteria gets in there, and it's not real nice. We need to rebuild that wall with a robust structure and sealant.”

The wall is not load-bearing, so will not affect the integrity of the building when it is removed and replaced, Auerbach said.

“We're going to try to keep these projects small, so we don't get involved with a lot of fancy bid packages,” he said. “We can't do this all at once. When this building was originally built, it was a tractor shed. That's where it evolved from.”

Paul Lagasse asked the board to keep in mind that the grounds of the municipal building are also in need of cleaning. “I think all the building changes are very good for the staff, but as a resident of the neighborhood, we've been waiting for almost two years for something to take place outside,” Lagasse told the board.

Auerbach said that one of the large dirt piles would be removed within the week, and that the supervisors will revisit a site plan that was prepared by LTL consultants to improve the appearance of the area around the building.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.



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