Last night’s School Board agenda included the priority discussion of the Valley Forge Elementary School tennis courts. Much time was spent in reviewing the history of the tennis courts, the parking study and additional parking requirements, the District’s timeline, etc.
After much discussion from School Board members and residents, the Board voted to seek a variance from the Zoning Hearing Board. The application for the next Zoning Hearing Board meeting on Thursday, May 23 is due by May 1. Why is a variance needed to keep the tennis courts … The combined impervious coverage of the additional parking spaces and the tennis courts is slightly more than the township stormwater ordinance permits. If I understood the plan correctly last night, the District’s application to the ZHB will seek a variance for this additional impervious coverage.
The decision as to whether the tennis courts ‘stay or go’ is contingent on the ZHB ruling. If the ZHB denies the variance to the District, the VFES tennis courts will be demolished. If the ZHB grants the variance to the District, my impression from the discussion was that it still is not a definite that the courts will be saved. Several Board members voiced concern that there could be unknown additional costs to saving the courts. The solicitor Ken Roos was careful to include wording in the motion to include an ‘out’, if it turns out there are other costs to saving the courts. According to Facilities chair Pete Motel, some of the costs to save the tennis courts are known. (1) because of the existing contract; the District will pay $14K to the contractor not to demolish the tennis courts, (2) filing fee of $2K to the ZHB (although it was suggested that the Board of Supervisors may waive the fee if asked, and (3) the cost of District experts (solicitor, architect) to prepare the application and attend ZHB meeting.
Township manager Bill Martin commented that the township staff would be available to help the District with the application. Both he and the District solicitor Ken Roos were clear that the township cannot control the outcome of the ZHB … the Zoning Hearing Board is a quasi-judicial body whose decisions are not subject to the approval of the supervisors.