Duly advertised in The Pottstown Mercury and posted at www.schuylkilltwp.com
The Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors held their public work session on Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. This is an informal meeting to discuss township related business with the public without making any motions or voting on any discussed items. The work session was called to order at 7:10 p.m.
The working meeting’s agenda was a review of the Township’s Zoning Ordinance Chapter 370, Attachment 4: Historic Properties Map and List. In attendance were Supervisors Mark Donovan, Susan Guerette (by telephone), Martha Majewski, and Jim Morrisson, Township Manager, E.J. Mentry, Township Solicitor, William Brennan, Zoning Officer, Kimberly Yocom, and from the Historical Commission, Sandy Momyer, Dianne Cram, John Gregory, Ginny Stearly, and Jay Stearly. Also in attendance were Karen Marshall – Heritage Preservation Coordinator, Chester County Planning Commission, Jeannine Spears – Senior Community Planner, Chester County Planning Commission, and Robert Wise – Historic Preservation Planner, RGA, Inc.. Supervisor Fred Parry was absent..
Ms. Majewski opened with a summary of the topics to be discussed mentioning that enforcement issues have cropped up and it may be time to review the list of approximately 250 properties and revise the selection criteria. Ms. Momyer responded that of the approximately 250 properties currently on the list, only about 10 or so have presented enforcement issues to the Township. . Ms. Momyer went on to say that a number of historic property owners have been before the Historical Commission (“HC”) with renovations and changes made according to the Historic Resource Ordinance. Ms. Momyer stated that much effort has been put into the ordinance over the last 10 years with the assistance of top preservation consultants to develop a selection process based on national, state and county preservation criteria. Ms. Majewski said the township is not disputing past efforts; the objective is to ensure that the township’s historic resource inventory list is the best it can be and to not squander township resources on marginal properties. Mr. Donovan commented that, in his opinion, the Historic Resource Protection Standards Ordinance (“HRP”) is wide open to subjective interpretation. Mr. Brennan added that from a legal viewpoint, the township’s purpose in this review is to evaluate the township’s selection criteria to be certain that it can withstand the scrutiny of a court challenge. Mr. Wise summarized how the Historic Resource list was created by distilling the results of a county-wide survey with a “windshield” appraisal of township properties which concentrated on architectural features; properties were then selected using a point system to determine their historic value. Mr. Donovan responded that there can be no ambiguity in court; the township needs more defensible criteria and the Board is looking for the HC’s assistance in refining both the resource list and the ordinance so historic properties may be protected to the best of the township’s ability. Mr. Wise suggested that perhaps a more thorough definition of a Class II Resource should be added to the ordinance. Discussion ensued regarding how best to determine the historic value of properties. Ms. Marshall noted that the Board appears to be frustrated by a historical valuing system which cannot be much improved and suggested the township review its enforcement procedures. A discussion on other municipalities’ enforcement policies and processes followed. Ms. Marshall suggested that the township consider separating demolition by neglect from the HRP and investigate offering incentives such as adaptive reuse relief and preservation plan assistance. Mr. Mentry returned to the HRP resource list and asked if the Class II properties could be ranked within that class using the current rating criteria. Mr. Mentry said this would give the township a point of reference on which to evaluate resources. Ms. Cram informed the Board that the HC recently reviewed the Class II resource list and came up with about 36 “questionable” properties. The HC will work with Mr. Wise for a final determination of historic value for these properties. Ms. Majewski closed the discussion stating that the township should perhaps emphasize incentives over enforcement; Mr. Donovan added that a further goal is to refine the criteria list. Ms. Marshall informed the Board that she would provide to them her notes of tonight’s proceedings.
Mr. Robert Cooney, 10 Loch View Lane, petitioned the Board to review and revise the Township’s Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance Chapter 320 Article V § 320-22 Streets and provided his suggested edits to the Board. The Board took his request under advisement.
The next work session date is March 28, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at 9:25 p.m.