A compromise over the Town Center plan in Pennsbury Township calls for the discharge of treated wastewater into filtration beds on the township park property.
Pennsbury Village Associates, the developer of the project, is to build a sewage treatment plant to take care of the proposed properties as part of the compromise.
The filtration beds, according to the agreement, would be either under, or adjacent to the parking lot "in order not to interfere with recreational uses of the park."
That idea has raised concerns of some residents who opposed the original Town Center Plan and brought a suit to force changes.
Bob Crandell, a member of the Pennsbury Township Planning Commission, said he can accept the notion of treated wastewater being discharged into park property but only if necessary to handle sewage needs for current township residents.
"The developer should not force the township into the sewer business," he said.
Crandell said the developer would have more land to develop by using the park as a discharge location.
Crandell, Jeannie Fenton, Alma Forsyth, Aaron McIntyre and Will Sappington Jr. were the individual protestants who signed the Stipulation of Settlement that included the wastewater discharge provision.
McIntyre said they would have preferred the effluent to be discharged onto the developer's property, but that the supervisors saw this as an opportunity to solve other sewage concerns.
"The effluent has to go somewhere, obviously. A global sewage solution along Route 1 is needed and the supervisors were hell bent on accomplishing it all at one time," McIntyre said.
Supervisors, MaryAnna Ralph, Karen Wood and Wendel Fenton were contacted, but queries were handled by township solicitor John Spangler.
He said that though the word "global" was used in negotiations, it's probably too strong a term.
Spangler said the modified plan is viewed as a potential solution for sewage concerns along Route 1 because there will be a public sewer system installed. He said using one larger plant would be better than trying to use on-site septic systems.
"The thinking is 'Why not make it bigger than needed and use it for more than one development'," he said.
Spangler added they the caution is to not make it so big that it encourages development outside the Highway-Commercial zoning district -- Route 1.
Discharging wastewater into the park property requires Chester County approval.
At issue is the township's need to abide by a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions that were part of two 1996 grants that enabled the township to buy the 53-acre park property behind the township building. Those grants totaled $482,000.
Crandell said the township would have to go to the county to get permission for the infiltration beds to be located at the park.
Kimberly Burgess, a municipal grants writer for county Open Space Preservation, said in a March 7 letter to township manager Kathy Howley that a previous proposal in 2002 to install spray and drip irrigation fed from a planned neighboring development was deemed inconsistent with the covenants and restrictions placed on the grant money.
Burgess said that discharging wastewater onto park property without permission would violate the DCCR.
Spangler said there is no set procedure for getting the permission from the county, but that the township must first determine, with input from the Planning Commission and Pennsbury Land Trust what is actually needed in terms of wastewater discharge.
The first Town Center plan, or Traditional Neighborhood Development, called for seven acres of township property to be leased to join two other parcels to create one parcel of 25 acres.
Residents opposed such use of township property, saying it violated a deed restriction on township property use. Their appeal, filed in October 2004, was upheld in an August 2005 court decision.
The compromise, a modified Traditional Neighborhood Development, now includes three parcels totaling approximately 22 acres.
According to the Stipulation of Settlement, there are to be 55 carriage home units on the east parcel and 20 carriage home dwellings and 24 condominium dwellings in two buildings on the west parcel. There will also be a drive-in bank and a retail or restaurant building.
Uses for the third, the three-acre Hickory Hill parcel, include two buildings consisting of four home dwelling units, but there is to be no commercial use of the property, "nor shall there be any sewage or wastewater treatment system."