PHOENIXVILLE -- The Schuylkill Township Board of Supervisors is no longer under immediate pressure to meet a deadline for decision on the application of Pohlig Builders for development of the Reeves property at its September 3 meeting.
Because Pohlig Builders, after a productive but not conclusive special session with the Township Planning Commission Wednesday evening, offered through its attorney John Snyder to again extend the deadline for another month.
That gives the Commission additional breathing space to continue its review of both Pohlig's proposal made under the terms of Township ordinances and its alternative planning recommendations, proposed in a plan addendum.
It gives the Zoning Hearing Board, still slogging through hearings on multiple variances, exceptions and special exceptions requested by Pohlig, opportunity to hear yet more witnesses on the issues.
It gives the Commission and the Board time to review eight pages of comments
from the Environmental Advisory Committee, received by them just last Wednesday. It gives the Commission and the Board time to assess recommendations from the Township Historical Commission.
At Thursday's session, the ZHB picked up where it had left off, prior to the suspension of hearings with the death of long-time Township solicitor Robert Sugarman, and scheduled four more sessions, two in September and two in October, to complete the roster of Township witnesses.
At Wednesday's special Commission meeting, chair James Reading kept the focus first on "the by-right plan," and led the Commission through approval of waivers regarding tree locations, disturbances to the property within five feet of property lines, and accessways to on-property utilities.
But, through the details in both sessions, remaining fundamental contentions began to emerge. And they have a geography. The issues surround two locations: the proposed bridge connecting the upper and lower portions of the site, and the entry and exit to and from the property along Valley Forge Road.
The first location of dispute is that of the proposed new bridge crossing the inlet that divides the property in two. The question is whether it can be built as a structure in a flood hazard zone, and if so, on what terms.
The entry/exit location is subject to two considerations. The first is traffic patterns, and whether changes there will "degrade" existing intersections. Snyder argued that Township criteria, more restrictive than PennDOT's would prevent development: "If we get a Highway Occupancy permit [from PennDOT], we can build. We couldn't build with your restrictions."
One option now under exploration, should PennDOT prevent a left-hand turn to travel west on Valley Forge Road, is to provide a second access point to the property through East Phillips Drive. Pohlig has agreed to "a quick traffic study" to determine that alternative's feasibility.
A second question lingers over whether Pohlig has the 50-foot frontage along Valley Forge Road at all. Interim Township general counsel William Brennan cited a doubtful review of the survey provided by Pohlig, and said that the Township would not accept it. The Township "reserves the right," Brennan said, to challenge the matter before final plan review.
Snyder recast the issue as, if anything, a matter between adjoining private landowners that should not involve municipal authority. "We say we have 51 feet. If no one complains, we have it," he said.