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Chester County Press

Morris and Schenk seek seat on Franklin Township board

10/17/2017 02:06PM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

In Franklin Township, supervisor Penny Schenk is facing a challenge from Nancy Morris for a six-year term on the Board of Supervisors. Below, the incumbent and her challenger review their histories and plans for the township.


What inspired you to run for supervisor?

I decided to run after attending a Board of Supervisors meeting last fall where the topic of farmland preservation was on the agenda. I am passionate about preserving farmland, and two farmers had asked for consideration to put their farms in agricultural easement. At the time, most of the board was unwilling to allocate funding from the budget for these farms.
We need to make sure people can continue to maintain farms here in Franklin. I believe short-term investments in preserving our farms will lead to long-term benefits for all of us through lower taxes and less sprawl. Farmers also provide real benefits to everyone through the agriculture they produce.

I decided to run so that I can help advocate for land preservation in Franklin Township.

How long have you lived in Franklin Township?

My husband and I moved into Franklin Township in 1988, when we bought our first home in Heather Hills. I will never take this region's beauty for granted. Whether I am biking along Creek Road or hiking through Peacedale Preserve, I think we live in an incredible area, with these preserved lands made possible by the work of many before me. I feel it is time for me to give back to the township.

What are the three main issues facing the township?

Taxes, retaining our rural character, and avoiding congestion and sprawl.

How would you address these issues?

Taxes: We all want to improve our tax base so that we can avoid raising taxes. However, many of the recent developments approved by the current Board of Supervisors will not improve our tax base by one penny. The Gourmet's Delight expansion isn't expected to bring any tax revenue to our township. Nor will the charter school expansion. Some people think building houses increases our tax base. Unfortunately, more houses means greater strain on our schools. Building more homes not only takes away from our farmland. It also increases our taxes. So we need to look at creative ways of increasing our tax base. One way is to take advantage of our amazing parks, farm produce, vineyards and other small businesses to bring visitors to our region for special events and weekend "getaways.”

Retaining our rural character: Retaining our local charm and history is critical to creating a thriving community that attracts visitors. Anything we can do to preserve the interesting characteristics of our past will be very helpful. Making sure our Amish residents feel welcome is a great start. I look forward to visiting the new distillery on Flint Hill Road, and I look forward to exploring ideas to help make our historic district more walkable.

Avoiding congestion and sprawl: We need to take measures to manage traffic problems in the township and to manage growth sensibly. This requires a Board that consider impacts on current residents when they approve growth. Auburn Road is going to have more tractor trailer traffic due to the Gourmet's Delight decision. That road is small and winding. I am worried about how we can make sure people are safe on it. I have heard stories of cars being driven off the road by the tractor trailers, and this is before the expansion goes through.

What are your goals if you are elected to the board?

To listen to every voice in the community. To be fair and to work hard. To keep taxes from rising, and to help preserve farmland and open space so that we can continue to enjoy this township's beautiful and unique character.

For more information, visit


What inspired you to run again for supervisor?

During my time on the board, many positive policy changes have been implemented. Some examples include cost control budgeting measures, road and traffic safety improvements, and streamlining ordinances for easier resident understanding. I find great satisfaction in doing the work required for the township and I want to continue the successful policies that we have developed.

How long have you lived in Franklin Township?

I am a lifelong Pennsylvania resident. I have lived in Chester County for 23 years, and in Franklin Township for 16 years.

What are the three main issues facing the township?

Maintaining the roads and infrastructure are a priority and ongoing issue. Replacement of the Hess Mill Road bridge will be necessary in the next three to four years. The cost for this project is estimated to be $350,000. This will require careful planning and budgeting.

Compliance with stormwater management in urbanized areas (MS4) is an unfunded mandate that will require cooperation with neighboring municipalities with an untold cost estimate.

The township will face major increases in the cost for emergency services as volunteer support continues to decline and will need to be replaced with paid staff.

How would you address these issues?

Money management and cost control are essential to successful government. During my time on the board, we have developed a system where the staff, contractors and alternating supervisors meet weekly to review and plan capital spending. Franklin Township has joined a consortium for storm water management (MS4) to identify areas where we can work with neighboring municipalities and share costs. Wise and careful use of taxpayer money is key. In an effort to support our emergency responders and encourage volunteerism, we recently passed an ordinance that provides some tax relief to emergency service volunteers.

Transparency and openness are essential for residents to have confidence in our government. We publish as much information as possible on the township website. My email address and phone number are also available on the website so that residents can contact me as needed.

What are the main accomplishments of the board of supervisors during your tenure on the board?

During my time on the board, we have carefully managed the budget. Township real estate taxes were lowered twice for a total of a 20 percent reduction. Road improvement and safety projects have been completed successfully. I am particularly pleased with the recently completed road and guide rail projects on Laural Bridge and South Guernsey roads. Construction of a 1,000-ton salt storage building resulted in the ability to manage winter storms efficiently. An approachable board environment was created along with a friendly, welcoming environment at the township building. Resident input is encouraged and valued.

Open space preservation continues to be a concern for residents. Approximately 26 percent of the township is preserved through public and private means. Due to policies of a previous board, the Open Space program is overspent. The multimillion-dollar loan they secured will not be paid off until 2040 and the dedicated Open Space tax does not cover the cost of the loan service. This requires an annual transfer of funds from the General Account. While I will continue to look for opportunities to preserve land from development, I do not support an aggressive open space program that would increase taxes and add to the long-term debt.

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the Franklin Township Board of Supervisors. I have worked hard to make decisions that will have a positive impact on residents. For more information about my tenure on the board and my campaign, please visit my website,