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Budget and tax rates set in Franklin Township

12/26/2016 10:25AM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

At their last meeting of the year on Dec. 21, the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors approved a new budget, set tax rates and got some unexpected good news regarding the preservation of a property in the township.

By unanimous vote, the board set township tax rates for 2017: The General Fund at 1.225 mills; Emergency Services at .5 mills; Park and Recreation at .27 mills and Open Space at .5 mills, for a total tax rate of 2.495 mills. The fire hydrant tax rate was set at $36 per parcel located within 780 feet of a fire hydrant.

The final plan regarding the Gourmet's Delight development proposal was unanimously approved, with several waivers and conditions. Board chairman John Auerbach told the audience that moving forward, the township wants to work together with Gourmet’s Delight and the neighbors.

In a discussion of conservation easements for several properties in the township, Auerbach provided a history of the properties. One is adjacent to the Peacedale Preserve and, in the opinion of most of the board members, is not a property that would generate much development. However, the other parcels, which equal 55.3 acres and contain a working farm, would be attractive to a developer. Initially, Auerbach said he was against the idea due to the cost and the proximity to his son’s property, but after some research, he had come to the meeting prepared to vote in favor to contributing to the cost of the easement.

But in a surprise development on Dec. 21, the township got notice that the Chester County Agricultural Land Preservation Board had agreed to purchase the AG conservation easement outright on the parcels that are currently an active farm, with no contribution required from the township. The board agreed that the township is in favor of contributing to open space projects, but not raising taxes to do so.

In other business, Landenberg resident David Berger presented his plan to hold a half marathon race in the township on Oct. 14, with proceeds benefitting local agencies which have not yet been finalized. Berger proposes that the race begin and end at the Fox Chase Farm. The weekend will start with a Friday evening 5K race to take place on the Geoghegan Trail, which is located on the farm. The race route is not finalized. Berger said he is hoping to get approval from all the affected townships and then go to PennDOT for approval to close the roads for short periods of time as runners come through. The board members were generally supportive of the idea and asked Berger to return for the board's Jan. 18 meeting.

Auerbach presented information on two township-owned bridges. One is at Walker and Mt. Olivet roads. The other is the Hess Mill Bridge, located near the intersection of South Guernsey Road on Hess Mill Road. The Hess Mill bridge is evaluated each year by PennDOT, which has made some recommendations. The board agreed to have the township contractor install eight additional pilings on the wing walls. The board discussed repairing the bridge in the timber bridge style, which would save the township money because it would not involve permits and the work could be done in the road. Also, agreements from the four neighbors would not be necessary, because no private property would be disturbed. The township will also be investigating the cost of putting in a new bridge similar to the one installed by New London Township on East Avondale Road.

The Board of Supervisors organizational meeting will be held Jan. 3 at 7 p.m. The elected auditors meeting will be held Jan. 4 at 8:15 a.m. The Historical Commission and HARB will meet in Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. The Planning Commission will meet on Jan. 5 at 7 p.m., and the Board of Supervisors will meet on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. Visit www.franklintownship.us for more information.

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


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