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Chester County Press

Penn Township worried about water

11/13/2013 02:35PM ● By Acl

The current Penn Township Board of Supervisors members greet supervisor-elect Ken Bryson and congratulate outgoing supervisor Robin Marcello after her election to the Clerk of Courts position at the county level. From left to right: Bill Finnen, Ken Bryson, Curtis Mason, Tom Barlow, Victor Mantegna, and Robin Marcello.

By Nancy Johnson


At the Nov. 6 Penn Township Board of Supervisors meeting, Curtis Mason, the chairman of the board, told the audience that the township recently received a complaint about a property on State Road, where spent mushroom soil substrate was being stored.

"Agriculture is a use by right in this township," Mason explained. "But the issue here is that [the substrate] is polluting groundwater."

Board member Bill Finnen noted that nitrates leach from the substrate into the ground and eventually into the streams. He referred to extensive studies done at Penn State on the effects of mushroom soil substrate. The landowner has told the board that he has a permit from the Conservation District allowing him to store the substrate.

"This whole thing gets into the Right-to-Farm bill and we don't want to get into a battle," Mason said, "but we want to protect property rights. We have to have clean water to drink."

Explaining that he wanted to avoid bringing in lawyers and engineers, Mason suggested that the board send a letter to the Conservation District requesting that the township be involved with any future application related to substrate being stored in Penn.

"I don't want to hurt the [mushroom] industry; it's very important to the area. But I do want to protect our residents," Mason said. His fellow board members agreed and unanimously voted to draft a letter to the Conservation District.

In other business at the Nov. 6 meeting, the other supervisors congratulated supervisor Robin Marcello, who will hold a new position in January after she was elected as the next Chester County Clerk of Courts in the Nov. 5 election. In other election news in Penn Township, Ken Bryson easily won the seat that Marcello is vacating, while supervisor Victor Mantegna retained his seat.

Mason also reported that a disaster was narrowly averted in the township. Thanks to an automated calling system, they were notified that a sewer pumping station generator in Elk Creek was not working. Had the problem not been quickly noticed and rectified, it could have resulted in sewage backups throughout the development.

According to Mason, the cause of the problem was obvious. The radiator had been shot with pellets from an Airsoft gun. The repair was costly, approximately $3,000,because double stainless steel screens were installed to assure that it won't happen again. Residents in Elk Creek will get a letter about the vandalism.

On a good note, the board has received a lot of positive feedback regarding the speed humps on Sunnyside Road.

Resident Ken Woodcock offered his firsthand experience. "When that road was paved [after the new bridge construction] it turned into the Indy 500. That was before you put in the speed hump," he said. "It really slows people down."

Woodcock also said that if drivers are traveling at the posted speed,  they can negotiate the hump without problems.

Mason smiled and commented on the drawn-out bridge project. "It was a nightmare project, but I think it turned out beautiful," he said.

Deviating from the normal schedule, the December board meeting is slated for Dec. 11 at 5 p.m.