East Marlborogh: Many residents demand bike path on Route 82

By Matt Freeman

Some were avid bicyclists, and others just as avidly never bike at all, but a group of East Marlborough residents showed up at Monday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting to support a controversial bike-path project.

The township has proposed to create walking and bicycling paths along Route 82 between the intersection with Route 926 at Willowdale and the traffic roundabout at Unionville. The project, long championed by Township Manager Jane Laslo, has been just as consistently opposed by Supervisor Robert Weer.

Weer feels the project is not a justifiable use of federal grant money, and at a recent meeting Unionville resident Jack Greenwood echoed that objection.

But at Monday night’s meeting at least four area residents said they strongly favored the project. Township resident Peter Watercott said that as a bicyclist himself, he wanted to see it completed, and he added that he knew many other residents who felt the same way because it would benefit not just bicyclists but children and elderly residents who wanted to be able to walk safely along Route 82.

His wife Joelle Watercott said she also enjoys bicycling, but not along that stretch of Route 82. “I find it to be incredibly dangerous, and I do my best to avoid it,” she said. Gary Liska, another area resident, said his son and other young people find it difficult to get from their homes to the Landhope store at Willowdale, and the project would make the trip easier for them.

Vic Dupuis, another area resident, supported the project as well. “Anything we can do to improve the safety of the corridor is essential,” he said.

Laslo told the residents the project was on hold at the moment, because township officials were concerned that the agreement with PennDOT made the township liable for cost overruns. The township had given PennDOT a modified agreement addressing those concerns, and if PennDOT accepted it the project could go forward, she said.

One resident said he wished the project could be expanded, but Laslo said that for the moment there was no plan to do anything but what had already been proposed.

In other business, the supervisors held a public hearing on a new franchise agreement with Comcast that would give the township the maximum 5 percent of the cable provider’s gross receipts from township households. Laslo said the township currently gets 5 percent from Verizon, but Comcast had been paying less because the previous cable provider it bought out had only been paying 2 or 3 percent and that arrangement remained in place.

The supervisors voted unanimously to raise the proceeds to the maximum. “That cost will undoubtedly be passed along to the users,” Laslo said.

The supervisors discussed a proposal by township resident Jerry Brown to operate a small ice-cream shop in Unionville. The supervisors said the zoning ordinance could permit the shop either as a food store or a restaurant, but designating it a restaurant would require a conditional-use hearing. They said they would have Township Solicitor Frone Crawford look at the ordinance and make a recommendation about which designation was more appropriate.

After some discussion, the supervisors decided to open their February meeting 15 minutes early, at 6:45 p.m., to hold a public hearing on a proposed non-solicitation and peddling ordinance that would ban most forms of commercial door-to-door sales in the township.

The ordinance would acknowledge state law that allows religious and political groups to canvass households, and would exempt civic organizations like the Scouts and registered charities, according to Board Chairman Cuyler Walker, who drafted the ordinance.

The supervisors said the zoning hearing board would rule on a request to sell firearms from a private residence. The supervisors said they had rejected the request, because in their opinion it was not a permitted use under the zoning ordinance, and the resident had appealed their decision to the zoning hearing board.