Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Kennett Square Borough Council considers changes to stormwater management plan

02/26/2014 01:19PM ● By Acl

By Steven Hoffman 

Staff Writer

Kennett Square Borough Council discussed, but did not approve, significant changes to the borough’s stormwater management plan during its meeting on Feb. 18. 

Engineer Mike Ellis began the public hearing by explaining that the process of revamping the borough’s stormwater management plan, in accordance with Pennsylvania Act 167, in 2010. Ellis said that the state established a plan to develop county-wide stormwater management plans that are based on model plans rather than having 15 or 20 different watersheds in a given county.

“The goal of this ordinance is to have the same standards throughout the county,” Ellis explained.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved a county-wide Act 167 Stormwater Management Plan in July of 2013, and municipalities are now required to adopt their own plans, with minimum regulations. It is up to each individual municipality as to whether the regulations will be more restrictive than the county-wide plan.                                                                                                                                                                                              

The proposed stormwater management ordinance that borough council was considering was more restrictive than the model plan in several ways. The one that generated the most debate involved how much land could be disturbed by improvements before a property owner would need to seek a site survey, soil testing, and other engineering work.

In the county-wide plan, a property owner could add up to 1,000 square feet of impervious surface changes, while the borough’s proposed plan reduced that to 500 square feet.

Council member Geoff Bosley expressed concerns that the 500 square feet of impervious surface changes is not a lot—simply adding sidewalks to a lot could exceed that.

“I don’t know why we need to be more restrictive than what the county or state {recommends},” he said.

Council member Dan Maffei also said he was concerned that the more restrictive regulations could add costs to projects like the installation of sidewalks—and the borough wants properties to have sidewalks.

If the borough approved the ordinance with 500 square feet as the applicable point, “A detached garage or a patio could end up falling under the ordinance,” Maffei said.

Kucera pointed out, however, that the more restrictive regulations have an advantage. If a property owner makes a change that adds impervious surfaces, it could end up impacting neighbors. It would be better to have professionals monitor the potential impact before a project is completed.

Ellis reminded council that it has the authority to approve waivers for projects. So if the regulations were established at 500 square feet, council could simply approve projects like the aforementioned sidewalks, patios, or detached garages on a case-by-case basis.

Bosley expressed concerns that property owners would have to go through a lengthy process to get approvals for small projects.

Rusty Drumheller, the borough’s codes enforcement officer, said that over the last few years, approximately half the projects in the borough would have been impacted by applying the 500-square-foot threshold.

Council members ultimately decided that more work needs to be done before they can decide on the 500-square-foot threshold, the 1,000-square-foot threshold, or some point in between.

“I think the intent of the ordinance is correct and I think it’s important,” Maffei explained. “It’s our obligation to protect our water resources.”

In his Public Safety report, Police Chief Edward Zunino reported that the police department responded to 599 calls in January. That compares to 641 calls one year earlier.

Borough council president Leon Spencer, meanwhile, thanked the police department, as well as the public works department and the fire company, for keeping everyone safe during the recent snowstorms. Spencer said that he counted no fewer than 19 fire calls during the first 24 hours after the ice storm hit the area.

Several officials lauded the public works department’s response to the frequent storms this winter.

Kucera said that the borough still has a supply of salt left to handle any remaining storms that this winter has in store for the area.

When the weather takes a turn for the better, the borough has several projects that are set to get underway and Bosley outlined a few of them. Bosley said that construction on the Yeatman well, which will reduce the borough’s reliance on water from the Chester Water Authority, is ready to begin when warmer weather arrives. All the work should be completed by summer. Work should also soon start on installation of the closed-loop traffic light system that will improve traffic flow in the borough.

Borough council also approved the Special Event application for the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration, which will take place this year on May 4.