New Pharmacy Coming to Township
The biggest change coming to the township will be the new Walgreen Pharmacy planned for an expanded Bradford Plaza (Giant shopping center). This development, which spans the boundary between West Chester Borough and East Bradford Township, has been in the works for some years, and the Township Supervisors gave final approval on May 11, 2010, allowing Walgreen to proceed with other permits and financing. Walgreen stated that they had already received final approval from West Chester Borough. Construction will include extending Bradford Avenue to Route 322 as well as a self-serve Giant gas station on the West Chester side of the extension. A concern of the supervisors was limiting the visual intrusiveness of the signs and traffic. Since there will not be a traffic light at the new intersection of Bradford and Route 322, turning west from the Bradford Avenue Extension onto 322 was a concern. However, a traffic study with an accompanying simulation demonstrated that synchronizing the three surrounding traffic signals allowed the left turn merge without a fourth traffic signal. Although there were other minor unresolved issues, Walgreen agreed to give Mark Lucas, the Township Engineer, authority to make the final decisions on those items in order to avoid delay of the supervisors’ vote.
The Specter of Higher Taxes
Since 2009, the township has operated with diminishing income and rising expenditures. This is due, on the income side, to the economic slowdown, and on the revenue side, to increases in the state required minimum contribution to the employee pension plan, the police services contract with West Chester Borough Police and rising employee health insurance costs. Home sales, which are down, generate transfer fees for Township. The 2010 budget includes some belt tightening such as a pay freeze for employees. However, the shortfall so far has been supplemented mostly by using a surplus which in previous years had been growing. Next year the township will likely face some tough decisions, and it has been suggested that a public meeting would help decide if the budget will be balanced through cuts in services or tax increases.
New Zoning Changes Adopted in August
Zoning changes were unanimously adopted on August 10, 2010, which include changes to allow the residential by-right use of rooftop solar panels no larger than the original roof area and ground mounted panels below 500 square feet of area that generate no more than 125% of maximum demand of the residence. Larger photo voltaic panels require a conditional use approval by the supervisors. Also new regulations concerning the use of telecommunication transmission and electrical towers was included in the ordinance.
The early 19th century barn on Sconnelltown Road, just behind the nursing home, was purchased from Genesis Healthcare by Peter Stack and is being renovated for a National Ice Tool Museum.
At the July 13, 2010 meeting the supervisors unanimously approved fees for written verification of extensions of approved building projects. This was done in the wake of PA Act 68, state legislation allowing approval of building projects to continue for up to three years, due to the economic downturn. The Supervisors explained that the fees will offset administrative costs in meeting this new state requirement. The new residential fee will be $100 and the new commercial fee will be $500, Both are the maximum allowed by the state law.
Resolution in Opposition to State Proposals
Also at the July 13 meeting the supervisors unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to two proposed state bills.. The one, if adopted, would eliminate all municipalities in the state and make the county the basic level of local government. The second bill, if adopted, would force mergers between municipalities. The supervisors made these comments: Vince Pompo said this may be appropriate for certain services such as police and fire. John Snook said this may be appropriate in rural townships with less than 1000 residents. Tom Egan said consolidation should only be done when appropriate, but it was not suitable for East Bradford. The approved township resolution (in opposition to the state bills) will be forwarded to Harrisburg and compiled with other similar township resolutions.