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Chester County Press

East Marlborough announces 2018 budget and debates development plans

11/07/2017 10:03AM ● By J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The big news for residents is that taxes will not increase in East Marlborough Township next year. Township manager Laurie Prysock announced details of the township's 2018 budget at the Nov. 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, saying, “Our assessed market value increaed by about $4 million, to $703,524,000. Our projected budget will be only a $16,000 increase over last year's budget. We are keeping a lid on expenses, and realizing the additional value of the real estate because of rising market values, and also the new homes that are being built at Walnut Walk.”

The budget will be advertised and available by the end of the week for public inspection, Prysock added, and will be voted on at the Dec. 4 meeting.

The board also voted to replace a member of the Zoning Hearing Board after the death of a longtime member. Three candidates had stepped forward – Jane Laslo, the former township manager; Jack Greenwood, a current member of the safety committee; and attorney Bruce Jameson.

Supervisor Eddie Caudill said, “Jane is very familiar with zoning issues in the township,” and nominated her, with a second from supervisor John Sarro.

Supervisor Bob Weer, Sr., commented, “I think this township needs some new blood and new ideas,” and nominated Jameson. That motion was not seconded.

In the final vote, the board elected Laslo to fill the vacancy immediately. Board chairman Richard Hannum acknowledged that there may be more vacancies on the way for the zoning board, but felt that getting Laslo on board would be a good first step.

Much of the meeting was taken up with zoning issues, led by attorney John Jaros, who was representing several clients. First, he presented a proposal to use a three-acre parcel with a warehouse at 200 Gale Lane as a used car sales facility. The former Metal Sales and Service, Inc., site is a 24,000-square-foot warehouse that could be a branch of an Audi dealership that is on Route 202.

“They would use the lot for used-car sales and limited new-car storage,” Jaros told the board. There would be no major changes to the building, lighting or signage, and most of the activity would take place inside the building, not outside. There would be no outdoor banners or other promotional items, since sales would hae already been initiated by customers online, he said. “We feel that this is an appropriate use in this area,” Jaros added.

The board seemed generally in favor of the use, pending further review. Jaros said he would talk to his client and return with details if they decide to go forward with a formal conditional use hearing.

About an hour was spent discussing the proposed Longwood Preserve townhome development, which is planned for a 40-acre parcel between Schoolhouse Road and Walnut Road. Jaros, representing developer CJK Development, has been negotiating with the township over access roads to the proposed community. On Nov. 6, he presented a revised placement of a connector road to the northwest of the community instead of to the south. The new placement got a positive response from the board, and Hannum said, “This road to the west seems best suited for this passageway,” and Cuyler Walker said that the township planning commission also endorsed the new location. The board voted to approve the new plan, with Caudill voting against it.

The question of an access road and intersection on Schoolhouse Road, however, drew an extended and sometimes heated debate between Jaros and some people in the audience, including David Adamson, who owns a property near where the proposed road will connect. Representatives of CJK were clearly angered by Adamson, who spoke about sight distances, possible solutions and the idea that he would sell the developer part of his property for $500,000.

There have been ongoing debates about the placement of the intersection on the road, which has a slight rise that impairs sight distance for motorists. Reducing that rise by regrading the road, as well as moving telephone poles, would be prohibitively expensive, Jaros said, and he proposed a three-way stop sign at the intersection. “Cars do speed on Schoolhouse Road, and placing a three-way stop there will slow that traffic down,” he said.

Hannum said that, “In several discussions, the concensus from our township engineer and others is that a three-way stop makes sense.”

Supervisor John Sarro suggested moving the proposed intersection a little farther south, to the top of the rise in the road, increasing visibility. There was a lengthy debate about the pros and cons of that proposal.

Hannum steered the bristling comments, finally summing up by saying that moving the intersection south to the top of the rise seemed to be the best idea, but also leaving open the possibility of a stop sign.

“We've got to move forward with our plan,” Jaros said. “We will explore all our options, but if the problems are insurmountable, we're back to square one. You will probably see us at next month's meeting,” he told the board. “These delays are causing us some concern, but we will look at all available options.”

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