Haverford Township Commissioners Meeting, May 14, 2018
Notes submitted by Maggie Wright

This was National Police Week. Corey Watkins received the township’s Officer of the Year Award.

Auditor Ross Anderson reviewed all expenditures and found no irregularities.

Concerns about commuter parking on Crest Road, in the Powder Mill Park section of the township, led to a first vote on a new ordinance requiring a “resident sticker” for any car parked on Crest Rd. between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Parking is an issue on Crest Rd. because so many commuters use the nearby Penfield Station on Manoa Rd.

The first vote on this ordinance passed 7-2, with Commissioners Siegel and Holmes voting “no” because this solution simply shifts the problem to other streets and avoids developing a more comprehensive solution. At one point during the debate, Commissioner Holmes suggested that only Haverford Township residents be allowed to park on residential streets near Route 100 stations, but Police Chief John Viola said that setting up and enforcing such a system would be a “nightmare.” Crest Road resident Julie Eastman addressed the commissioners about the issue.  She believes that the presence of non-resident cars on her street gave cover to a thief who “cased” her home and broke in. Commissioner Siegel responded that there is no demonstrated correlation between crime and commuter parking near train stations. Police Chief Viola concurred on this factual point.

As with all township ordinances, this one must be voted on a second time in order to be enacted.  It will be on the agenda at the June 11 meeting.

Plans for the Pennsy Trail extension to LA Fitness, including a bridge over Manoa Road, are going ahead, assisted by a $1.1 million grant from the state. Christine Barnes spoke to the value of the bridge, noting that it will allow her daughter, who has intellectual disabilities, to access the Wawa, the YMCA, and other locations without having to cross Manoa Road at Darby.

Irene Coffey, President of the Historical Society, spoke about repairs to the Federal School, which were accomplished with funds raised from the community. Federal School is a “living history” event for all township 4th graders. Coffey encouraged attendance at the Heritage Festival on Karakung Drive on June 3. This event is a key annual fundraiser for the Historical Society. This is especially important as the Society makes plans for developing the “colonial kitchen” aspect of their Colonial Living program, which provides all 5th graders in the township with a “living history” experience.

Jeff Gregory reported on residents’ work in the Westgate Hills area, cleaning up and constructing a rustic path connecting to Merry Place Trail. Looking ahead, they hope public funds will be available to pave the trail they have built.

Commissioners were thanked for their support of the Dog Park in the Haverford Reserve. It brings a diverse group of dog owners together in a positive setting and gives them an opportunity to get to know one another.

Haverford Township Commissioners Meeting, April 9, 2018

Below you will find a summary of the business conducted and issues discussed at the meeting. For greater detail, watch April 9 commissioners' meeting.

The Haverford Township Board of Commissioners hold their next “working” meeting on Monday, May 7 and their next “regular” meeting (where they cast formal votes) on Monday, May 14. Both meetings are open to the public. They begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m. in the township’s new administration building, located at 2014 Darby Rd.

According to Maggie Wright, who reports on Board meetings for HavDems and H-CAN, the Board of Commissioners took up a number of personnel and traffic-related matters at their regular monthly meeting on April 9:

  • Approved first reading of a retirement incentive for Township Manager Larry Gentile, enabling him to retire at age 60 “with no actuarial reduction for the early commencement of his pension benefits.”
  • Reported on the impending release of $5 million in state funds to alleviate the significant traffic congestion that will result when 375,000 square feet of retail space opens up in new shopping center on the Blue Route at West Chester Pike. Senator Daylin Leach convened a meeting with PennDot, which was attended by Township Commissioners D’Emilio, Oliva, and Siegel, Township manager Larry Gentile, State Representative Jamie Santora, and a staff member from State Representative Greg Vitali’s office. They agreed on the need for a more long-term set of traffic improvements in the area, but the $15 million needed for that is not forthcoming at this time.
  • Approved the appointment of Aimee Cuthbertson, CPA, as township Finance Director.
  • Passed the Dogs in the Park ordinance. Residents should look for new signage in their parks to ensure compliance. Nina Weber reported on behalf of the Haverford Reserve Dog Park that information and Community Education Programs can be found on their Facebook page.
  • Approved Civil Service Commission recommendation to appoint five men, age 23-28, as entry-level police officers.
  • Appointed Conor Quinn to one-year term on Vacancy Committee and appointed Nichole McClain to Parks and Recreation Board.
  • Received Auditor Ross Anderson report of finding no irregularities in township finances.
  • Heard Chad Brooks, representing the Grange, announce the need for gardener volunteers.

Wright also reported that, at a prior meeting, the commissioners had unanimously passed a resolution putting the township on record in support of common sense gun laws. They anticipated the April 9 meeting would include a straightforward, final vote confirming that resolution. Before the vote, however, Jim McGarrity, Ward 7 commissioner, asked for a definition of “common sense gun laws.” In what Wright describes as a “pretty powerful moment,” the other commissioners decided to respond by reading the entire resolution, which lists 10 specific items:

  • require universal background checks for all gun sales, including sales online and at gun shows
  • prohibit domestic abusers from owning guns
  • require anyone who has used or threatened to use a gun against others to surrender their firearms
  • restrict the sale of guns to mentally ill persons if there is clear evidence they have used or threatened to use a firearm
  • report lost and stolen guns within 48 hours
  • prevent known or suspected terrorists from obtaining guns
  • require trigger locks on guns in homes with children
  • ban the sale of assault weapons, bump stocks, and high-capacity magazines of more than 10 bullets
  • required gun safety training courses
  • support the funding of mental health treatment

The resolution passed, after these commissioner comments:

  • McGarrity said he supports the 2nd amendment but also the ban of assault weapons
  • Steve D’Emilio, Ward 1, said that our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are at stake
  • Kevin McCloskey, Ward 3, praised the board for this public statement but added that no changes in the laws will occur unless we all keep contacting our state and federal legislators and demanding change
  • Dan Siegel, Ward 4, reflected that five or ten years ago, resolutions like ours would not have seen the light of day, and it’s significant that local boards are passing them and sending a message to legislators to change the gun laws
  • Bill Wechsler, Ward 9 and Board president, said he is proud of the board for coming together on this bipartisan issue and is proud of the activism around the issue, especially on the part of young people.

Watch commissioners' gun control discussion.

Haverford Township Commissioners Meeting, February 12, 2018

Below you will find a summary of the key issues discussed at the meeting. For greater detail, watch February 12 commissioners' meeting.

  • Take note: the Haverford Township Commission will meet for the first time in the new administration building at its March 5 ‘working’ meeting and March 12 regular meeting. The new building is located at 2014 Darby Rd.

Membership on Citizen Boards & Committees

Victor Barski was re-appointed as Ward 5 representative to the Environmental Advisory Committee. Steve Cohen was appointed to represent Ward 5 on the Senior Citizen Advisory Board.

There are currently vacancies on these boards/committees:

  • Cable TV Advisory Board (1-year term).
  • Vacancy Committee (1-year term).
  • Senior Citizen Advisory Committee: needs representatives from Wards 1 & 2.

If you are interested in applying to serve on one of these committees, contact your commissioner.

Township Commissioners voted on February 12 to expand the membership of 4 citizen boards:

  • Health Advisory (from 7 to 9 members)
  • Ice Rink Advisory  (from 7 to 9 members)
  • Parks and Recreation  (from 7 to 9 members)
  • Shade Tree Commission  (from 5 to 7 members)

Expansions reflect the high number of qualified citizen applications to serve on these boards. No new applications are sought. Commissioners plan to fill these new positions in March.

Haverford Historical Society

Irene Coffey, President of the Haverford Historical Society, spoke during the Citizens’ Forum regarding needed structural improvements in Nitre Hall and the Federal School. Later in the meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support – with a 50/50 match –  the Historical Society’s grant application to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission for a Keystone Historic Preservation grant. The total cost of the project is $129,632. Haverford Township is providing $64,816 through the sale of property on Eagle Road which was willed to the township for this purpose.

Commissioners all expressed support for preserving our historic sites and budgeting for this in future years. The Haverford Historical Society will continue to administer to the needs and upkeep of Nitre Hall and the Federal School for another 25 years.

Township Support of Climate-Friendly Policies
Commissioners authorized purchase of a propane-fueled Ford F350 pick-up truck with plow and a propane-fueled Ford F550 dump truck with plow. At this time, gas costs the township $2.01/gallon and propane costs $1.10/gallon.

The township will continue to seek climate-friendly vehicles, but hybrid vehicles cannot yet support all of the equipment in police vehicles.

The township has moved to 100% nuclear electrical power, further reducing our carbon footprint.

Jean Lutes and her daughter, representing H-CAN, presented the commissioners with Green Valentines as thanks for keeping their promise to take local action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Dan Siegel, Ward 4 commissioner, reminded all that recycling costs the township far less than dumping our trash, and the size of that cost difference is growing. If residents live in an apartment building or work at a business that is not providing recycling bins, contact the township to request action. A recent call on this matter got very quick action in response.

Steve D’Emilio, Ward 1 commissioner, and Commissioner Siegel will be holding a meeting at the Manoa Fire Co. at 7:00 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 28 to share information with residents about a planned PennDOT project to address increased traffic at I476 and West Chester Pike. That meeting will also share information on a plan to extend the Darby Creek Trail.    

Fireworks Regulations

There was a lively debate when Dan Siegel, Ward 4 Commissioner and chair of the Ordinance Committee, moved to bring township fireworks regulations in line with new, more lenient, Pennsylvania guidelines.

The debate was not over the substance of the new guidelines, which allow for personal use of fireworks and allow for sale of fireworks in certain C-4 areas, including portions of West Chester Pike, Township Line Rd., and Lancaster Ave. Opposition to the motion, vigorously led by Vice-Chair Larry Holmes of Ward 6, centered on whether commissioners should take any vote on the issue before the public was informed. Proponents of the motion argued that the township typically revises regulations to fall in line with state regulations, which legally supersede township regulations. The motion passed 6-3, with Commissioners Holmes, Hart, and Oliva voting “no.”

There will be a second reading of the motion at the March 12 meeting, and the Zoning Board will hold a hearing to amend the zoning code on April 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Traffic Regulations & Pedestrian Safety

PennDOT will continue with the installation of the Adaptive Traffic Signal System on West Chester Pike. This is an ongoing, statewide project to install traffic signals that read existing traffic conditions and adjust signals to keep traffic moving.

Commissioner Mario Oliva, Ward 2, spoke of the benefits of the bridge across Manoa Rd. and extension of Pennsy Trail to Vernon Road. These improvements give children a safe path to Bailey Park and Manoa School.

Welcoming Diversity of Residents in Haverford Township

Commissioner Gerry Hart spoke at the end of the meeting about his concern that an African American family that moved into Ward 8 two years ago has not experienced the welcome that Hart’s adopted African American children met when they joined the community a number of years ago. Since the family’s negative experiences have come to light, says Hart, there have been renewed efforts at outreach and Hart is hopeful the family will reconsider its decision to leave Havertown.

While Dr. Hart is old enough to have watched MLK Jr.’s “I Have  Dream” speech on black and white t.v. and knows the progress our nation has made in racial justice, he is also aware that events like Charlottesville show we have a long way to go. Every resident of Haverford Township can take affirmative steps to embrace our community’s increasing diversity and live up to President Abraham Lincoln’s hope that we will listen to “the better angels of our nature.”

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Working meetings occur on the first Monday of every month at 7:00 p.m.  Regular meetings, with time set aside for the Citizens’ Forum, are held on the second Monday of every month, at 7:00 p.m.

Haverford Township Commissioner meeting, January 8, 2018

Hens were the headliners at the January 8 meeting.  In several meetings last fall, citizens lobbied for the right to keep a maximum of 4 hens – but no roosters – in backyard cages.  At the January meeting, commissioners voted 5-4 to approve backyard hen houses, as long as they are 20 feet from property lines.

The vote on the hen issue was not along party lines.

Voting “yes” were:
Oliva (R), Ward 2
McCloskey (D) Ward 3
Lewis, (R) Ward 5
McGarrity (R) Ward 7
Hart (D) Ward 8

Voting “no” were
Steve D’Emilio (R) Ward 1
Dan Siegel (D) Ward 4
Holmes (D) Ward 6
Wechsler (R) Ward 9

Kevin O’Neill, a local attorney and the unsuccessful Republican candidate for Ward 4 commissioner in 2017, was appointed to a 1-year term as Civil Service Solicitor on a party-line vote.  The four Democrats on the commission supported Sean Kilkenny, an attorney from Norristown.

Commissioners unanimously approved the expansion of seats on Health Advisory Board, Ice Rink Advisory Board, Parks & Rec. Advisory Board, Friends of the Grange Advisory Board, and Shade Tree Commission.  They also unanimously approved the appointment of Graham Lee to serve a 5-year term on the Radnor/Haverford/Marple Sewer Authority. On a 5-4 vote, commissioners approved Brooke Huff to serve as a 1-year replacement on the Human Relations Commission.  In an earlier meeting, the current commissioners had approved the appointments of  Michele Purdue and Jason Conway to serve 3-year terms on the Human Relations Commission.

The Police Dept. and Township Auditor gave their monthly reports, and warrants were approved to pay the township’s operating bills for everything from payroll to sewage.  The commissioners unanimously supported a review of traffic and parking restrictions with a goal of standardizing these restrictions, replacing the current patchwork of rules that shift from street to street.

No citizens spoke at this meeting.  Once the happy hen lobbyists departed, the only 2 citizens in the audience were representatives from the Democratic Party and H-CAN.  If you attended just one meeting per year, the audience would expand.  Commissioners need to see that citizens are paying attention to township business.

The township commission holds its “work session” meetings on the first Monday of every month and its “regular” meetings on the second Monday of every month.  Meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and end at 9:00 p.m.  They are currently still being held in the Quatrani Bldg., 2325 Darby Rd.  We will let you know when meetings move to the township’s new administrative building.

Here’s the township’s official calendar for all upcoming meetings, including the Zoning Board and Planning Commission meetings.

We would love to publish reports from any of you who attend advisory or administrative board meetings!  Contact Victoria Brown at brownv@grinnell.edu.

Video of the regular monthly Township Commissioner meetings appears on YouTube within a few days of each meeting.  Watch January 8 commissioners' meeting.