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Chester County Press

Kemblesville UMC, facing financial crisis, is looking for options

07/19/2019 09:54AM ● By J. Chambless

The Kemblesville United Methodist Church is facing closure, and several uses for the large property are being considered.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Faced with a drastic decline in membership, the Kemblesville United Methodist Church is exploring options for its future use, and two representatives of the church asked the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors about the issue on July 17.

During public comment at the conclusion of the regular meeting, Tom Veasey and Dan Mahala from the church said they have had a 75 percent drop in membership and cannot pay their debts. In three months, they said, the church will likely not be able to pay its bills.

Several options were introduced. They could offer the building for the township’s use for the cost of the debt, which is about $425,000, they could convert it into low-income housing for veterans or seniors, in a design similar to that of the Luther House. This would require a grant from the State of Pennsylvania and the grant application must be submitted by November. They also said they could sell or rent the building, which sits in the heart of Kemblesville, as commercial office space.

The supervisors indicated they would not be opposed to the low-income housing or office space ideas, and would like a developer to meet with them and answer some questions. The board is planning a special meeting so the public could attend and voice their opinions, instead of waiting until the Aug. 28 regular supervisors meeting.

A zoning issue regarding the owner of 1620 New London Road is being resolved after the property owner announced he is selling the property rather than comply with stormwater requirements he said are cost-prohibitive. He has been informed that he must stop all of the business activity at the property by July 30, or the township will issue a notice of violation.

Paul Lagasse reported that the Historical Commission and the Historical Architectural Review Board had held a joint meeting on July 2. He said deed research on the Church Hill African Cemetery property will not begin until the fall, at the earliest, and that the Franklin Township historic resources map should be reviewed and finalized in late July. Lagasse said the Historical Commission is soliciting scans of postcards, photos, and other documents from anyone who is willing to share them for posting on their website.

The owners of a 13.7-acre property on Peacedale Road have submitted an application to be placed in the Township Agricultural Security Area (ASA). The ASA protects farmers against nuisance complaints and/or lawsuits. The owners are interested in placing an AG easement on the property. The board unanimously accepted the application.

The first rough draft ordinance regarding solar and wind energy was discussed at length. The board agrees that they don’t want to discourage commercial alternate energy sites, but they foresee issues with setbacks, screening and stormwater requirements. The board will discuss the ordinance again before submitting it to the Planning Commission for their review.

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

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