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Chester County Press

Penn Twp. supervisors discuss mushroom company, new radio station

08/13/2014 12:47PM ● By Lev

By Nancy Johnson Correspondent

Skip McGrew, the chairman of the Penn Township Planning Commission, informed the Board of Supervisors at its Aug. 6 meeting about an application filed by Qihe Food Corporation.

McGrew described the application they had reviewed. “Originally, it came to us as a lot line change, then it morphed into a subdivision, and now it is a full-blown application for development,” he said.

Qihe Food Corporation intends to grow shitake mushrooms, which according to McGrew, is quite different than growing other varieties of mushrooms. “There are a number of issues and we asked a lot of questions,” McGrew said. “We learned a lot, but there are still many unanswered questions.” McGrew said that the mushrooms are grown on on something manufactured in China that “looks like a log, but is not hardwood. They are a composite of some sort," McGrew said. "This still remains a bit unclear.”

The supervisors said they plan to act on the application at their next meeting.

In other business, Dansko representative Joe Riper presented the company's request for a zoning amendment. He said Dansko had a prospective lessee for a portion of their original building on Federal Drive, but the building was in the C2 district, which only allows non-industrial uses.

In their design and manufacturing of surgical equipment for cancer treatment, the interested party, Anholt Technologies, is considered light manufacturing. They currently have a building in New Garden, but are outgrowing it.

Riper said that while Anholt will operate on three shifts, only 20 people work on the day shift, and considerably fewer on the other two shifts. He added that there would be minimal truck traffic and no external impact, such as heat or fumes.

“I am here tonight to introduce the concept,” Riper told the supervisors. “Then I would meet with the Planning Commission and make a more formal presentation.”

The board agreed that Riper should meet with the Planning Commission later in the month and said they would like to visit the current Anholt Technologies location to learn more about their operation.

Chuck Freese, of Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management AGREM), addressed the board regarding the group’s quest to establish a locally managed AM radio station.

“We are moving forward with this, and on June 11, we got permission from the FCC to do a 30-day test,” Freese said. “The signal more than covered the Avon Grove area.”

Freese hopes to have the station up and running by the end of the year. “We want to get people accustomed to listening to it now for local information. Then, when there is an emergency, they will know to tune in for directions,” he explained. He noted that the station could broadcast information on road closures or events in the various townships.

AGREM has already been awarded $9,995 by Chester County Emergency Services towards the project, which is estimated at $40,000. Freese is visiting each of the five townships and one borough in the Avon Grove region to request that they contribute $1 per capita to help fund the endeavor.

“We think it speaks to everybody,” replied Curtis Mason, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors Victor Mantegna and Ken Bryson both agreed with Mason. Karen Versuk, Penn’s public relations manager, said, “Once it kicks off, we will publicize it in a big way. We’ll put it on our website and on our big sign on Baltimore Pike.”

Versuk also reported on a number of projects in the township. She is optimistic about a generator grant for which they recently applied. This would allow the township to run traffic signals during power outages.

She said they held their first public meeting regarding the public mobility study and that it was well attended and well received. She hopes to get more input via questionnaires that are being distributed and will be available at the upcoming picnic and wellness fair on Sept. 27.

“We are on target as far as raising money for the picnic,” she said, adding that McCormick Taylor just signed on as the first platinum sponsor, and that Dansko remains a loyal gold sponsor.