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Chester County Press

New Garden introduces proposed rental inspection program

05/16/2023 04:01PM ● By Richard Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw              New Garden Township Manager Christopher Himes introduced a new initiative at the May 15 Board of Supervisors meeting that if adopted would create a rental inspection program in the township.

By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer

New Garden Township Manager Christopher Himes unveiled a new initiative at the May 15 Board of Supervisors meeting that if adopted would create a rental inspection program in the township intended to enhance “the quality of life and living conditions within New Garden Township for residents engaged in a landlord-tenant lease.”

The proposal calls for the implementation of a program that utilizes the standards and protocol set by the International Property Maintenance Code (IMPC), as published by the International Code Council. Once adopted in ordinance form, the program would enforce rental inspection regulations, create mandatory rental property registration and inspection timeframes, and enforce penalties for any violations found.

Under the plan, the township would appoint code officials and code officers to inspect rental properties for safety, and report any violations of adopted cods and initiate remedial action or prosecution of offenders.

“This is a renter protection program to ensure that we are doing as much as we possibly can to assure quality of life for those who are renting property,” Himes said. “I would not consider this a rental inspection program, but more of a preventive maintenance program.

“This would allow the township to step up and do our part to enhance quality of life and protect our residents – at a low cost to the township – and make sure that those who rent properties are doing their part.”

Himes said that the contents of the inspection program would be provided in Spanish, and that in addition to all rental units in the township, it would also be applied to – and enforceable on – agricultural housing units.

Himes said that similar rental inspection programs and ordinances are already in place in several other neighboring municipalities, including the Borough of Kennett Square, the Borough of Avondale, the Borough of West Grove, Kennett Township, London Grove Township, Penn Township and Franklin Township.

Members of the board overwhelmingly agreed to Himes’ initial proposal, which now paves the way for a public hearing proposed for this June to officially adopt a rental inspection program for the township. If adopted, the township would establish a mandatory filing deadline for the registration of all rental units; share the contents of the program with all landlords who own and maintain rental units in the township; utilize current and new staff to carry out the program; and hire code enforcement officers to perform inspections.

Stormwater study for Toughkenamon

In other township business, Jill Cutler, a project manager with the Cedarville Engineering Group, presented the company’s recent assessment of stormwater concerns in the Village of Toughkenamon. Using Main Street, Willow Street, Center Street, Union Street as its focus area, the company conducted an engineering analysis to address strategies for replacement of aging storm sewers; help mitigate flooding; assess existing conditions; and conduct a topographical analysis of drainage areas.

Referring to an overhead map of the Village, Cutler said that much of the “downtown” portion of Toughkenamon is hampered by aging and absent stormwater systems that no longer adequately contain storm flows and result in frequent flooding.

Cutler then provided the board with five stormwater design options that range from $790,350 for a two-year option to a 25-year option that is estimated at $4.09 million. Each proposal calls for the removal of existing failing pipes and structures; the installation of new storm drains and structures; pavement restoration; traffic control; and also includes the cost of engineering and design, permitting fees and on-site contractors.

Undergoing a redevelopment of Toughkenamon’s stormwater infrastructure, Cutler said, would maintain current property values, minimize flooding and compliment the township’s 2018 comprehensive plan, which includes a goal to reenergize the village through an influx of new businesses and a streetscape design that will draw visitors and residents and provide a diverse range of housing projects.

Cutler listed several federal, state and county grant options that the township could pursue to help fund the project.

Open Space Review Board preserves over 500 acres

Chris Robinson and Randy Lieberman of the township’s Open Space Review Board (OSRB) gave an overview of the progress the committee has made since it was first formed in 2005, which has accumulatively helped to preserve over 550 acres of township property -- 300 acres through conservation easements and an additional 250 acres through a fee simple contract.

Since 2008, in partnership with Natural Lands, the OSRB has preserved 12 properties that collectively have a market value of $9 million, and include the 137 acres of what is now known as New Garden Hills and 105 acres of the Smedley property at the Loch Nairn Golf Course, which the township is converting into a trail system.

“The OSRB’s mission is to identify, review and evaluate the relative desirability of interest in real property and submit recommendations to the Board of Supervisors and/or assist a landowner’s desire to protect their land from development in a fashion that is consistent with the township’s financial and open space objectives,” Robinson said.

The board passed Resolution # 881 that granted permission to Kaolin Mushroom Farms to construct two new compost bunkers at its location at 133 Starr Road in Landenberg. Construction will begin immediately and the structures – estimated to be 6,000 square feet of total space -- are expected to be completed by September.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].