PHOENIXVILLE - At Thursday's planning commission meeting, Main Street Manager Barry Cassidy was successful in a bid to allow downtown businesses to continue to display neon "OPEN" signs until planners enact new long-discussed sign ordinances.
Code enforcement officer Mark Zeleznick told planners that lit window signs are not currently allowed in the borough, but said that he would not forbid such signs, at least until new ordinances are enacted.
"It's not like Las Vegas at night," said Planning Chair John Messina following the meeting. "The signs are only lit during the day."
"As for enforcement, we can't ... but we are working on drafting a new sign ordinance," said Planner Tom Carnevale.
Messina said that Historical Architectural Review Board (HARB) recommendations and current borough ordinances sometimes differ, with HARB regulations often being stricter than what the borough calls for.
Zeleznick called for both the planning commission, when presenting new sign parameters to borough council, and HARB work together to "give teeth" to the proposed changes for current sign ordinances.
"Everybody will have (an "open" sign) if you allow them," said Messina while alluding to 15 signs already in use in the downtown.
Planner Charlie Berger said that businesses will continue to be allowed to post their hours in the glass portion of a doorway.
Messina suggested that planners address the sign ordinance at the July 8 workshop meeting.
"Let's move it along and see if we can get some of it to stick," said Messina.
In other news, the property owner of the Vanderslice mansion at 307 Vanderslice Street proposed to planners a total renovation of the 7,000-square-foot structure into six apartments and add three townhomes to the surrounding property.
The Ukranian-American Club was established at the site in 1955. Sometime since then the mansion had fallen into disrepair. Kindred Construction General Manager Chuck Freed said that six 30 yard dumpsters have already been filled with refuse from the property.
The project's architect is planning commission member Carnavale's company, Carnevale Eustis Architects. Carnevale said following the successful submission of the sketch plans on Thursday that he next plans to submit to planners for preliminary/final approval.
Carnevale said that he hopes to use a pair of unnamed alleys to give access to onsite parking for 12 vehicles. No one present knew whether the alleys had ever been dedicated to the borough, which raised the question of who would be responsible to plow during snowfalls. The question went unanswered.
The large, second empire mansion features a mansard roof with eight extended relieving arch gabled wall dormers, a bay window dormer and a large turret with a mansard roof and a relieving arch window.
The Vanderslice mansion was constructed for Dr. Levi Oberholtzer, John Vanderslice's son-in-law in about 1874.
The property changed ownership between the Vanderslices and the Oberholtzers four times before being sold to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1911.
Also Thursday, Senior Geologist Rebecca Herr of PECO Energy addressed concerns voiced in April by Borough Manager Don Edwards who was absent from the meeting.
PECO Energy intends to remove residual material deposited inthe soil at Dayton and Penn streets, the site of Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Approximately 10,000 square feet of surface area on the eastern end of the property will be removed during 2004, according to PECO officials. The job should last about a month.
Herr agreed to widen part of an existing roadway, create a spot where borough vehicles on service calls might use to turn around and install a gate that might hamper people from disposing of garbage on the property.