Round two of cell tower hearing delayed for another month
● By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw
The long-awaited follow-up conditional use hearing that held the fate of a proposed 130-foot-high wireless cellular communications tower in Landenberg in its clutches got a delay Monday night, as the attorney for the applicant received a continuance.
Township solicitor Vince Pompo told the audience gathered at the New Garden Township's June 19 meeting that the township had received a letter from Christopher H. Schubert of the firm of Riley, Riper, Hollin & Colagreco, requesting that the hearing be delayed until the board's July 17 meeting to communicate with other “parties in the matter, in order to identify alternative sites on the property for the construction of the cell tower, as well as utilizing a technology that could camouflage the cell tower,” Pompo said.
If built, the proposed tower would be operated by Eco-Site, Inc., a Durham, N.C.-based supplier of wireless and infrastructure solutions, for the purpose of providing more cell phone coverage in the area. It would be constructed on the site of the former Little Stenning Farm, at 1511 Yeatmans Station Road in Landenberg. Currently, the plans call for the tower to be made of galvanized steel and created in a monopine design, so that it resembles a large pine tree.
The property is owned by Anthony J. Santoro and Renee L. Santoro, and is located within the R-1 Residential Low Density Zoning District.
At the first conditional hearing on April 17, several residents whose homes are near the planned tower expressed concern that the tower would obstruct their views of the adjacent White Clay Creek Preserve and negatively affect the property values of their homes. The potential hazard of the cell tower, they said, is not just an economic one. It could have a dangerous effect on the local environment.
Subsequently, the concern of these residents have galvanized them into a group called the Concerned Citizens of Landenberg, who have begun letter-writing campaigns, a new website (www.movetower.com ) and gathered more than 100 signatures from other concerned neighbors.
Although the hearing is scheduled as part of the board's meeting on July 17, it may get its own date. Anticipating a large audience expected to attend the hearing, Pompo said that the supervisors have discussed moving the conditional use hearing to July 24. Notice will be provided to all parties and residents well in advance as to the final date of the hearing.
In other township news, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission voted 4-1 on June 14 to approve the agreement of sale between th township and Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater, Inc. (Aqua) for the purchase of the township's sewer system for the price of $29.5 million. The vote overruled the recommended decision by the administrative law judge who had heard the case and claimed that Aqua had not provided enough evidence that the sale would benefit their existing rate payers.
"The law judge found that the transaction clearly benefited the residents of New Garden Township, meaning that based on the system and the terms of agreement, that [the sale] would benefit the residents," Pompo said. "He also found that the purchase price was justified. The judge also found that Aqua had not proven how the transaction would benefit their existing customers outside of New Garden Township. It was on that point that the Commission found that Aqua had proven that point."
The final agreement of sale, Pompo said, could be reached in the next 45 days.
On June 1, Pompo informed the board, the Philadelphia Orphans Court issued a decree approving the application to the agreement of sale for the 178-acre Green Valley Farm property to the township, for the price of $2.3 million, in order to place a conservation easement on the property.
Pompo said that assuming that there are no further appeals, a due diligence period would begin on July 3 and conclude on Aug. 17. Barring any unforseen delays, the final sale of the property is likely to be reached by the end of September.
"Ever since we've gotten the decree, almost everything is now in the township's and the National Lands Trust's (NLT) court," Pompo said. "It's up to us to do the survey and for the NLT to do the baseline documentation."
The board tabled a request by Hartefeld National Golf Club General Manager Ken Nicholas and board member Bob Jones, asking the township to exempt the club from abiding by the township's nuisance ordinance, which governs the club's liquior license and gives Hartefeld right to permit the club to continue to host outdoor music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Nicholas said that there was a recent complaint lodged against the club by a local resident, who complained about the excessive noise volume. To help smooth the way for the club, Nicholas and Jones are asking the board to petition the Liquor Control Board to initiate the exemption.
Southern Chester County Regional Police Department Chief Gerald Simpson said that the noise issue at Hartefeld has been going on for some time, and recommended that the township look into rewording its current nuisance ordinance.
"It's not the issue. It's the ordinance," Simpson said. "The long-term way to address this is to look at the ordinance."
The board will include the request as part of its July 17 meeting.
In an effort to stimulate business opportunities in Toughkenamon, Kristi Wyatt, general manager of the Delaware-based Harvest Ridge Winery -- and a member of the township's Comprehensive Plan Committee -- told the supervisors that the winery is among the anchor supporters in plans to bring business to the Toughkenamon Town Center shopping area on Newark Road.
Wyatt said that the winery is drafting plans to bring a tasting room to the center, which will also include food and outdoor seating in a courtyard that could potentially attract live music and other events. She said that the addition of the tasting room would not involve additional building, but would be retrofitted into the existing structure. She said that there are 76 parking spaces behind the center, that would easily accommodate visitors.
The board approved a motion to schedule a conditional use hearing for the planned project at its July 17 meeting.
Seeing the need for more affordable housing in the township, Jerry Poe, the owner of Poe's Mobile Home Park on Pemberton Road, introduced a proposal to expand the mobile home park from its current 19 units to an additional 26 units, over a ten-acre property. The homes in the park average 1,100 square feet, and are 14 feet wide by 70 feet in length.
Poe's application will need to go through a conditional use hearing before final approval for the expansion can be granted.
The board authorized the auctioned sale of 12.26-acres of township property, adjacent to the New Garden Flying Field, to Steve and Sarah Dooley, for the price of $313,500.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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