In Lower Oxford Township, supervisors discuss local sewer and water issues
● By Steven Hoffman
The Lower Oxford Township Board of Supervisors discussed the potential sale of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority and voted to join the ranks of southern Chester County municipalities opposing a takeover of the Chester Water Authority at a meeting on Aug. 12.
Aqua America, a privately owned water and wastewater utility company, is involved in both those issues that are impacting southern Chester County.
Ron Kepler, the chairman of the Lower Oxford Township Board of Supervisors, provided a quick update about the potential sale of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority. Kepler said that the Oxford Area Sewer Authority rescheduled its August meeting to Thursday, Aug. 29, and the meeting will now take place in the Lower Oxford Township building at 7 p.m. A representative from DELCORA is expected to be at that meeting.
After more than a year of negotiations, the Oxford Area Sewer Authority was set to sell all its assets, including a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment system, to DELCORA. But that potential sale was put on hold just last month when it was announced that DELCORA, a municipal authority, was entering merger talks with Aqua America. There are serious concerns about selling to DELCORA if that entity is to be purchased by a privately owned company because large water corporations are accountable to stockholders, not local residents who are paying the water and sewer rates.
Concerns about increasing water rates is at the heart of the opposition to Aqua’s plan to purchase the Chester Water Authority as well. The Chester Water Authority is a nonprofit water company, and municipalities can currently purchase water from this Authority at very reasonable rates. Numerous municipalities in the service area have formally opposed the sale to Aqua.
Kepler and his colleagues on the Lower Oxford Township Board of Supervisors—Joel Brown and Kevin Martin—agreed to send a letter to the Chester County Commissioners making them aware of the township’s position on the potential sale. Additionally, the letter will encourage the Commissioners to appoint Leonard Rivera to a position on the Chester Water Authority Board.
In other business at the meeting:
Sue Walker, a district director for U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, made a brief presentation to update residents about Houlahan’s activities since being elected as the representative in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District in 2018. The Congressional District includes all of Chester County, the city of Reading and its southeastern suburbs in Berks County.
Walker noted that this portion of Chester County, including Lower Oxford Township, had previously been part of a congressional district that was represented by Lloyd Smucker. The boundaries of the 6th Congressional District were redrawn in 2018. When Houlahan took office at the start of 2019, she established new locations for district offices.
Walker explained that one office is located in West Chester at 709 E. Gay Street, Suite 4, while the other office is located in the City of Reading at 815 Washington Street. She said that the offices are staffed during regular hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and there are extended office hours each Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Walker said that the staff is always willing to schedule a time to discuss any issues that have come up for constituents.
Since being elected to office, Houlahan has advocated for having the government negotiate lower drug prices from pharmaceutic companies, and supported legislation that encourages funding for public schools and transitioning to renewable energy sources. During Houlahan’s first seven months in office, Walker said, there were 486 issues raised by constituents that the office was able to resolve.
In addition to her duties in Washington, D.C., Houlahan has held nine town hall meetings across the congressional district. She has taken part in roundtable discussions with small business owners, agriculture producers, and several other groups so far this year. She also met with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss agriculture issues that are impacting farmers.
Walker encouraged constituents to visit Houlahan’s website, or to follow the Congresswoman on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and to reach out to one of the offices with any concerns or questions.
The Lower Oxford supervisors briefly discussed an update to the township’s zoning map, which would include the new designation of a Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zone for a portion of the township’s C-2 Commercial District that is situated along Old Baltimore Pike near Lincoln University. Keystone Opportunity Zones and Keystone Opportunity Expansion Zones are geographic areas that can provide specific state and local tax benefits to businesses as a way of encouraging economic development in targeted areas.
Kepler and township engineer Ed Fisher were designated to represent the township at a meeting regarding the county-wide Act 167 Stormwater management regulations.
The township is looking for a volunteer to serve on the Oxford Area Recreation Authority Board. Any township resident who is interested should contact township secretary Deborah Kinney at 610-932-8150, ext. 1.