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Chester County Press

Franklin Township supervisors discuss billboard ordinance and easement proposal

09/26/2016 10:43AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

Considering how much as the public dislikes large, lighted billboards, Franklin Township is taking steps to block their construction, and the Board of Supervisors discussed the issue at their Sept. 21 meeting.

One of the LED-screen billboards is being built in the Oxford area, so the board asked township solicitor Mark Thompson to draft an ordinance regulating these types of signs in the township. Thompson presented two options – one fully restricting the use of such lighting, and one regulating its brightness and length of illumination. These provisions will be integrated into existing regulations governing the lighting of signs. The board asked the township Planning Commission to review the ordinance at their next meeting.

The board discussed a request from two property owners who want to place conservation easements on their properties. Two parcels form a 55.3-acre property near Pennock Bridge and Guernsey Road, and the other parcel is 28.1 acres adjacent to the Peacedale Preserve. The parcels are flat and have no woods or steep slope restrictions, so they would be attractive to potential developers.

The approximate total acreage is 83.4 acres, being offered at about $5,000 per acre. The county is proposing to contribute 55 percent of the cost of the easement, and asked the township to contribute 45 percent. The cost to the township would be $187,650, payable in five installments of $37,530 over five years, or as a lump sum.

The board members discussed the price of the parcels, noting that the low cost per acre could be attractive to the township. Supervisors Steffen Torres and Donna Dea said they will not raise taxes to purchase open space, but that perhaps at the proposed price, over five years, the township may be able to find the money in the budget. Auerbach said that there is no money in the budget for these kinds of purchases, but tabled the discussion until October, when all five board members could discuss the issue.

Planning Commission chairman Dave Hoffman said the commission focused on the Gourmet’s Delight preliminary plan that outlines the expansion of the mushroom facility that borders the township. The commission suggested that the board consider having a hydrology study performed for the property. Hoffman said there are also public concerns about truck traffic on Auburn Road and gray water from the site.

Historical Commission chairman Paul Lagasse reported that the Historical Commission met on Sept. 7 to discuss the Eastern Shore Natural Gas Pipeline (ESNG) update. On Aug. 30,the commission submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concerning work proposed by ESNG for 2017.

The commission also had a chance to review the artifacts, now returned to the township, that were discovered on township property during the archaeological survey of the route along which ESNG is laying pipeline. Lagasse said the Historical Commission will create a Facebook page to share local history items, and plans to have it up by the end of October.

Ellen Kohler, from the White Clay Wild and Scenic Association, updated the board on the Christina Watersheds Partnership Collaboration Project. The pilot program is attempting to have townships work together to develop projects to meet the DEP’s requirements for sediment load reduction. Kohler assured the board that the DEP is promoting collaboration. She said that London Grove and New Garden townships have passed the resolution to participate in the collaboration, and that Avondale Borough will pass the resolution in October. Kohler said that townships that didn’t pass the resolution would still be invited to come to collaborative meetings.

Since two board members were not present at the Sept. 21 meeting, board chairman John Auerbach asked to table consideration of the resolution until next month's meeting.

Franklin Sportsman’s Association member Jim German reported that membership is full for this season. Most members have taken their proficiency tests. Archery season began on Sept. 17 and closes Nov 26, and opens again on Dec. 26 and closes on Jan. 28. Shotgun season opens on Nov. 28 and closes Dec.10, then opens again on Dec. 26 and closes Jan. 28.

The contract for the renovation of the township office has been awarded to low bidder Tim Siple, and work has begun. The rough-in electric is complete, so the contractor will continue with the insulation and drywall. The contractor anticipates the office will be finished by the end of September.

The Board also authorized Landscapes by Design to begin the municipal complex screening project, at a cost not to exceed $2,000. The first planting will take place near the driveway behind the Ford Farm parking lot.

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To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email [email protected].