Doerfler chosen as new president of Kennett Square Borough Council
By Steven Hoffman
Kennett Square Borough Council has a new president after Doug Doerfler was chosen to serve in the leadership role at the meeting on Feb. 19.
Doerfler was the only nominee for the position, which became available when LaToya Myers surprised everyone by announcing that she was stepping down as president at the Feb. 4 meeting. Myers decided to resign from the role after council approved new rules for public comment that she does not believe are fair. She immediately tendered her resignation as president, leaving council without a leader.
At the Feb. 19 meeting, council member Jamie Mallon nominated Doerfler to serve as president. Council then unanimously approved the nomination. Doerfler will serve as president through the end of 2019 as borough council will reorganize at the beginning of 2020, following the November elections.
As he accepted the gavel, Doerfler commented on the unusual nature of the events that prompted this change in leadership. He acknowledged that no one is happy about the situation, but he was willing to accept the responsibility of serving as president.
The next item on the agenda after the new president was selected was the resignation of council vice president Ethan Cramer from that leadership post. Cramer also cited the new rules for public comment as the reason for his decision.
After council accepted the resignation, Mallon nominated Peter Waterkotte to serve as council vice president. There were no other nominations, and this appointment was also approved unanimously.
As a part of the overall discussion about the president and vice president positions, council member Wayne Braffman noted that the president is granted very few extra powers by the borough codes, and for all intents and purposes, the president is simply one of seven members of council with no extra authority over policies.
Braffman explained that the duties of the president include running the meetings for council, signing certain documents, and representing the borough at public events if the mayor isn't available.
“I want everyone to understand how limited this role is,” Braffman said.
He added that he views one of the most important duties of a council president to be effectively distributing and sharing information with various borough officials, including all the council members.
Braffman said that when he and a large group of the other council members came on board more than three years ago, one of the things that he became aware of was the borough council's method of operation—specifically, only one or two council members were handling large amounts of the responsibilities, and only a few people were privy to information.
The current borough council, Braffman explained, has established several committees and taken other steps to make sure that all council members are included and involved in activities. Information is now shared between all council members.
“We've been working hard to change the culture of council,” Braffman said.
In his public safety report to borough council, Mayor Matthew Fetick said that the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission will be undertaking a study soon, and one of the goals will be looking for ways to redirect heavy truck traffic around Kennett Square. It has long been a problem that trucks heading for distribution centers and companies in New Garden Township cut through the borough.
Fetick said that one of the immediate steps that they are hoping to take is to have signage installed along Route 1 to inform truck drivers of the best routes to take to reach their New Garden Township destinations. The study could lead to other steps to address the issue of truck traffic in the borough.
Plans are moving forward on a two-story expansion of the parking garage. The expansion will add approximately 95 parking spaces. The project is currently out to bid. At the Feb. 19 meeting, borough council considered a waiver request regarding the stormwater requirements for the project. While the project will include a retention bed and an infiltration bed to address stormwater runoff, they will not be sufficient to meet the ordinance requirement of a 50 percent reduction in stormwater runoff. Essentially, the retention bed and infiltration bed would be sufficient to handle run-off on most storms, but statistically speaking a “two-year storm,” which is a storm that could be expected once every two years, would produce too much rain for the system to handle. A storm with rains of more than 2.65 inches an hour would potentially create issues with stormwater runoff. It would cost between $40,000 and $50,000 to put a second retention bed under the parking garage. Cramer offered an amendment to the motion that called for borough manager Joseph Scalise to utilize that approximate amount of money in the 2020 budget to remediate a stormwater management issue somewhere else in the borough, rather than using it on a second retention bed under the parking garage.
Borough council approved the waiver request by a 6-1 vote, with Myers being the dissenting vote.