Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Trout Creek

Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District Ordinance Passes 4-3

I guess ‘7’ was the magic number for the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District. Following the Board of Supervisors meeting last night, the seventh public hearing was held for the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District ordinance. With a standing room only crowd, a dozen or more residents spoke against the ordinance. Their arguments primarily targeted the stormwater issue, feeling that the language of the ordinance was not strong enough. There is also concern about the enforcement and maintenance of the stormwater basins by the township. Another concern cited by a couple of residents was the possible impact the development of the Richter property may have on historic preservation, believing that the property may have served as a burial ground in the 1700’s.

Laurie Elliott, a Glenhardie resident, spoke in favor of the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District and the development of the property by Arcadia Land Company. Elliott supports the development believing that this is a step in improving the stormwater issues. We know that it has taken over a hundred years for the stormwater problem to get to this level and it is going to take a major effort by the township, developers and residents to reduce damage caused by flooding and runoff.

Arcadia Land Company’s plan for the 36 acre Richter property site includes townhouses and carriage houses on the 26 acres zoned residential. It is unclear how the 10 acres that is zoned ‘professional’ will be developed. Jason Duckworth, president of Arcadia spoke at the public hearing, assuring residents that the development plan would include necessary infrastructure to help the stormwater problem. According to Duckworth the cost for the required infrastructure and stormwater basins is $4 million; a cost absorbed by the developer versus Tredyffrin’s taxpayers. However, some residents believe that rather than helping the current stormwater situation, the development of the Richter tract will actually increase the problems. Arcadia Land Company may have taken a big step forward with the supervisor vote last night but I think they may be facing an uphill battle with some of the residents.

After seven public hearings, at nearly midnight the vote to approve the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay District ordinance was 4-3. Supervisors Mike Heaberg, Michelle Kichline, John DiBuonaventuro and Kristen Mayock voted in favor and Phil Donahue, EJ Richter and Paul Olson opposed the ordinance. As I previously said, if the supervisors touted the C-1 zoning change as an economic development move, I did not see how it was possible that they could have voted against the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay ordinance. From an economic standpoint, the development of the 36-acre Richter site will clearly benefit the township’s financial coffers. However, I remain unconvinced about much revenue will be generated from the assisted living facility on the 1-acre commercial site at Jimmy Duffy’s.

Although I am pleased that so many residents were involved in the Trout Creek overlay ordinance, I am not sure why there needed to be seven public hearings. Except for maybe the development of Chesterbrook, I wonder how many times there have been that many public hearings on a specific topic. On the other side, the C-1 ordinance change only had one public hearing, one extreme to another.

I do have a lingering concern in regards to the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay ordinance. With the approval of this overlay district, which will presumably encourage redevelopment projects (beyond the Richter project), there appears an open issue on the enforcement and maintenance of the stormwater basins. From prior public hearings, we have learned that there is currently not sufficient township staff to review the existing stormwater basins. Going forward, how will this be handled?

I asked Tom Colman, the Glenhardie resident who co-chaired the citizen-working group with township supervisor Phil Donahue, about his thoughts on the Trout Creek Stormwater Overlay ordinance process and its outcome last night. Coleman was pleased that so many residents were involved and attended the meeting. He remarked, “I am immensely proud of the work done by all in educating the community and providing remarkable research to the process.” I don’t speak for others, but certainly on a personal level, it has been extremely educational to better understand the township’s stormwater and runoff issues and I thank all community members that volunteered their time and expertise in this process.

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