Township amends SALDO requirements

By on May 30, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

By a vote of two to one, Ephrata Township Supervisors voted to approve amendments to its Subdivision And Land Development Ordinance (or SALDO) as it relates to parkland dedication requirements.

This after a public hearing in which no one from the township or elsewhere were present to make any public comments in favor or against the proposed changes which were also submitted to the Lancaster County Planning Commission for review and comment.

The purpose of the amendment was to simplify the process of allowing developers to pay a fee in-lieu of actual parkland area in certain developments. Supervisors were seeking to establish a flat fee of $2,000 per house or development lot. Developers would still be able to appeal that rate by requesting an actual appraisal of the land be performed for an individual consideration on a case by case basis.

“I feel this fee comes somewhere in the middle compared to other municipalities,” noted supervisor John Weber. “West Lampeter is charging a flat fee of $3750 per lot which is considerably higher.”

But not all supervisors were in complete lockstep with the move to a new flat fee.

“We’ve gone through some issues with developers over the past few years with the price of land being what it is,” noted Chairman Clark Stauffer. “I do like the idea that we can change by resolution the charge being issued. The only thing I object to is the agriculture going from $300 to $2000 which is an undo hardship being put on the agriculture subdivision.

Stauffer pointed out that land owners would still retain the right to get an appraiser to review the land value, however, that would be at still more cost to the land owner.

“What we are doing is making them spend $500 to save $500 if they challenge us,” objected Stauffer. “I think we raised that one too high. I think we can, by resolution change that. I just feel that is an un-due hardship.”

In the end, supervisors John Weber and Tyler Zerbe voted in the affirmative while Stauffer was the sole vote “no.”

In other township business, supervisors approved a number of measures including the final land development plan for a proposed Member’s First Federal Credit Union to be located at Lot 6 at the new Giant Food complex on East Main Street. The huge retail complex is already well under way. The proposed Member’s First branch would be located at the corner lot adjacent to East Main Street and Pleasant Valley Road by the relocated entrance to the development.

Approved was a waiver to need to present the preliminary plan for approval and a waiver from needing to show existing conditions surrounding the proposed building, since all adjacent lots are under heavy construction at this point in time.

Plans call for construction on the branch to begin quite soon, with a completion and grand opening date in conjunction with an anticipated September opening of the Giant Foods Store.

Already plans have been approved for a mini-strip complex which would house a Starbucks Coffee, Five Guys Hamburgers and a Verizon Wireless store. The motions to move the development forward was passed unanimously.

And also, Joe Patterson, executive director for The Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County was on hand to give a presentation to the supervisors to highlight the ways in which the trust has become in many ways an extension of many local municipal planning commissions.

The Historic Preservation Trust was formed in 1966 by a group of concerned citizens who did not want to see the Andrew Ellicott house demolished to make way for the Prince Street Parking Garage in downtown Lancaster. The Ellicott house was built in 1787 by German carpenter Gottlieb Sehner II, and is where Ellicott taught Meriwether Lewis surveying and navigating skills prior to the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806). It is an excellent example of Georgian style architecture. The Louise Steinman von Hess Foundation bought the house in 1978 and began restoration which was completed in 1981.

He explained that through the cumulative efforts of municipal planning commissions, the Historic Preservation Trust and concerned citizens an impressive inventory of locally historic buildings have been saved, even restored.

“The basic aim of the Historic Preservation Trust is to educate and inspire historic preservation so the related benefits of neighborhood revitalization, economic development, heritage tourism and conservation can be realized countywide,” added Patterson.

Patterson explained that the trust works hard to maintain a county wide inventory of all historic buildings with a special eye out for those properties in danger of begin lost to neglect or demolition.

In fact, the trust is in the early stages of updating that registry.

That effort in itself is a monumental task, but with huge benefits to local municipalities. That is where the group looks to increase the partnership and cooperation across all the county’s municipalities.

“The foundation for the Preservation Trust’s work is the information that it gathers countywide on homes, barns, bridges and other structures that are World War II vintage or older,” explained Patterson. “The Preservation Trust Library, with thousands of properties documented, is open to the public and free to members of the Trust.”

Patterson noted the increased foot traffic over the past several years as local residents are becoming more interested in the heritage of their homes. Many people come in to check with the Trust on their home’s historic information but in the process can often alert the trust of structures which should perhaps be placed on the watch list.

But like all such efforts the challenge, often, is raising sufficient interest and funding to make a difference. While the Trust was never created to go into the building restoration process, it has become involved in a number of high profile efforts. Most notable of the Trust’s success stories include work on the Thaddeus Stevens 1843 House in the city of Lancaster and the moving of the Rieber House (1772) in Manor Township.

The Trust has been reaching out to all of the local municipalities across the county to raise awareness of the groups efforts but more importantly to foster collaboration and cooperation between the Trust and local governments. Often, the trust is able to foster such collaboration between property owners, local government and even investors looking to help raise the necessary funds to save endangered properties.

With architectural preservation experts as advisors, the Trust boasts the best Lancaster Historical architecture library in the county. And it is proud of the fact that it leads the way in historic structure inventories.

Where the Trust can especially be a service to municipalities such as Ephrata Township is in advising on best preservations practices and in raising public awareness on the need for better preservation. The Trust is also a resource in advising the township on ordinances which will strengthen local historic preservation governance.

As a 501©3 nonprofit organization, the Historic Preservation Trust depends upon contributions and volunteers to accomplish its mission to preserve and protect Lancaster County’s rich historic and architectural character. Volunteers work on surveying historic properties countywide, recording information from surveys in the Preservation Trust Library, making presentations to municipal leaders, maintaining the Sehner-Ellicott-von Hess House and planning and promoting special events.

According to Patterson, the Historic Preservation Trust has identified 45 properties of historical significance in Ephrata Township.

And finally, Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey made a point of urging drivers to put the cell phones down and focus on driving when behind the wheel. Harvey pointed to two separate recent accidents caused by drivers who were pre-occupied with texting while driving. In one accident a vehicle collided with a horse and buggies which required the horse be euthanized due to its injuries.

“If it means throwing the phone in the back seat, do it,” stated Harvey. “To see the damage and the carnage it is just not work the text message.”

Harvey said Ephrata police will continue to be vigilant in seeking compliance and in reducing the numbers of distracted drivers on the road.

“It just is not worth it,” added Harvey. “It’s just not worth it. I can’t think of anything else to say about it.”

For additional information on Ephrata Township, please visit their website at www.ephratatownship.org. Please also visit the Historic Preservation Trust website at www.hptrust.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your questions, comments and suggestions via e-mail at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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