Kennett Township officials eye formal role for environmental council

Kennett Township >> Kennett Township may soon take a more formal approach to considering the effects of development on its natural resources.

The township has traditionally worked to preserve its natural areas, and has a number of easement-protected open spaces. Environmental issues typically bring large crowds to the township supervisors’ meetings.

Now the supervisors are considering giving the township’s environmental advisory council (EAC) a more formal role in the land-development approval process.

Lisa Moore, the township manager, told the supervisors at their second monthly meeting Wednesday that the EAC was interested in playing a more structured, systematic role. They would like to offer input at planning commission meetings, go on site walks, look at new sketch plans, and speak with developers and engineers about the projects and its possible environmental concerns.

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Scudder Stevens, chair of the commissioners, said the EAC was always intended to be part of the process, but that goal was never formally acted on. For a long time, Matt Sabo, the current EAC chair, was a member of the planning commission as well, so the interaction happened informally, he said.

Moore said the planning commission had reviewed and agreed with the concept, and were seeking the supervisors’ approval.

Stevens said it seemed like a sound approach to him, but that he would like all the supervisors to receive a copy of the proposal so they could review it and bring it up as old business at their next meeting.

In other business, the supervisors unanimously approved a proposal that the township keep in mind the broader efforts across southeastern Pennsylvania to establish a network of multiuse trails as it develops its own trail system.

Moore said the proposal was a request from Bike Chester County, a bicyling advocacy group. It described the “Circuit Trails,” a connected system of multiuse trails in the nine counties that are part of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission region, including Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Mercer, Burlington, Camden, and Gloucester counties.

The proposal is for all the municipalities in the area to help complete a total of 180 new miles of trails by 2025, to reach 500 miles total. When completed in 2040, the Circuit Trails will be one of the largest trail-building efforts in the country, according to the proposal.

Josie Marsh, the chair of Bike Kennett, a subcommittee of Bike Chester County, said they were “merely asking for the support of the township in the effort to build this region of trails throughout the Philadelphia area.” There was no obligation involved, Marsh said, simply an acknowledgement that the supervisors felt it was a positive concept.

Supervisor Richard Leff said the township’s own robust program of trail development would be less useful to people if it didn’t connect to a broader system. The supervisors then voted unanimously to approve the resolution.

The supervisors approved the appointment of Ted Trevorrow to the safety committee. Moore said he had extensive experience with fire companies and public safety.

The supervisors approved a resolution needed to fulfill a state-mandated update of the sewer facilities guidelines. Moore said the state requires such an update when substantial changes occur to the municipality’s sewage treatment needs. The Act 537 plan in question, which outlines current and future sewage needs and potential problem areas, had not been updated since 2002, and a large amount of development had occurred since then, she said.

Moore said the $134,000 cost to update the plan would be shared jointly by Kennett Square borough and the township. Grant funding was available that could pay for $68,000 of that, so that the cost to each municipality would be $33,000.

The supervisors thanked the Longwood Fire Company for donating a bench to Barkingfield Park.