Haverford Township Commissioners Meeting, February 12, 2018

Below you will find a summary of the key issues discussed at the meeting. For greater detail, see YouTube video of the meeting.  
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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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View the entirety of the commissioners’ meeting on YouTube

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.  See the January 8 meeting here.