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 S.O.S. Update - February 2004
 

                                      

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ZONING HEARINGS UPDATE: On Tuesday, Dec. 2nd a hearing was held to discuss a proposed change of zoning from 2 acre residential (RR) to allow higher density housing fronted by Commercial Development extending the length of West Bus. Rt. 30 and commercial zoning North on Rt. 10. Over 100 residents attended this meeting in opposition to these changes. Public comment was limited to 45 minutes by Chairman, Joe Garris, who requested additional comments be submitted to the township in writing. The vote was postponed until a future public meeting. Notice of this vote was advertised and is scheduled to be held at the regularly scheduled Feb. 17th township meeting at 9 a.m.

A second zoning hearing was held on Wed., Dec. 3rd regarding a proposed change of zoning to allow increased density within R2 districts from 6 to 11 units per acre.  This change was requested by JYF Partners to allow building of more than 135 condominiums instead of 75 town homes on their 12 acres located between Meeting House Lane and Bus. Rt. 30.  This change also affects 3 other R2 undeveloped properties in our township. Dozens of residents attended this meeting, again in opposition to this change. Unfortunately two of the three supervisors chose to vote in favor, allowing a density of 10 units per acre, even though the many residents attending were strongly and nearly unanimously opposed.  When repeatedly asked to justify why they voted “Yes”, deliberately against the will of the people, Doug Doratt stated that they voted based on the information they had received from professional consultants hired by the supervisors and paid for by the township. A resident also questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for Doug Doratt to vote in favor of this zoning change since he owns R2 property within the township and this zoning change could benefit him financially.  The solicitor indicated this was not a conflict of interest, in his opinion, since multiple pieces of property within the township would be affected by this change. But, Pg. 8 of the PA Township Supervisor’s Handbook states “. . . In any issue brought before the board of supervisors where an individual member has a conflict of interest, or there is an appearance of a conflict of interest, that supervisor should refrain from voting on the issue. Pennsylvania courts have long upheld as a fundamental public policy principle the rule that members of a governmental body cannot vote on any matter where they have a direct person interest.” It’s also of interest that newly elected supervisor, Dale Hensel owns property that will be affected by the Commercial Overlay zoning to be voted on Feb. 17th.

A second proposed change discussed rezoning 16 acres of residential property bordering Morris Lane to Light Industrial. After only minimal public comment, the supervisors chose to table their vote on Dec. 3rd. The supervisors subsequently voted to allow this zoning change at the Jan. 5th township meeting.

Silvernail/Franciscus ousted from Planning Commission: At the Jan. 5th reorganization meeting, the supervisors did not mention the organization of the Planning Commission, or other committees, as is commonly done. When resident, Stephanie Silvernail asked why these commissions weren’t included in the reorganization, Mr. Garris answered that the township wasn’t sure what they were going to do yet. He reminded Stephanie that her term on the Planning Commission had expired on Dec. 31st , as had Terry Franciscus’ term. No “thank yous” were given for their years of service (Terry 20+ years, Stephanie 8+ years). When questioned why the supervisors wouldn’t automatically wish to reappoint the two most qualified and experienced Planning Commission members, they responded that the township was accepting resumes for these positions and that the supervisors would decide at a later date how to proceed. Stephanie and Terry both submitted resumes for the open positions and indicated that they wished to continue serving their community on the Planning Commission. But, at the Jan. 20th township meeting held at 9 a.m., the Supervisors voted to pass an ordinance to decrease the number of members on the Planning Commission from 9 to 7, thereby eliminating the two open positions.  Not only was this action unwise since we clearly need volunteers well versed in zoning and development issues on the Planning Commission, but it was also a spiteful and vindictive way to eliminate two people who have continually voiced their opposition to over-development of Sadsbury Township, and favoring responsible development.  S.O.S. would like to take this opportunity to thank Stephanie Silvernail and Terry Franciscus for their years of service to our community and for consistently and courageously representing the will of the existing residents and not the developers.  Thanks to both of you for a job well done!

Sadsburyville.com: A new website has been created to help keep residents informed regarding township issues. Township meeting dates and times, development issues, recent newspaper articles and up-to-date meeting minutes etc. You’ll find all the information you need at Sadsburyville.com. The website, found at http://www.sadsburyville.com is not sponsored by Sadsbury Township and is not sponsored by developers. It is a totally independent and fully interactive website.  A service will soon be offered to automatically update those who enlist their e-mail address regarding meeting dates and changes. We hope you visit this site soon and continue to visit often.

IMPACT OF ZONING CHANGES AND MORE ZONING CHANGES TO COME: Apartment complexes are now permitted in several areas zoned R2 throughout the township (Old Wilmington Road, Bus. 30 and Stovepipe Hill). This could potentially result in more than 1,000 apartments in Sadsburyville Township. If the supervisors vote for the commercial overlay zoning at the Feb. 17th meeting, the open fields along Business Rt. 30 will be replaced with commercial buildings and medium density housing (1/2 to 2/3 acre lots) instead of 2 acre residential. In addition, Arcadia Land Company is asking for a zoning change to allow them to build over 450 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes on just 120 acres of land on Old Wilmington Road. At the Jan. 14th Zoning Task Force meeting, developer Jason Duckworth went over Arcadia’s draft Planned Residential Development (PRD) ordinance. Arcadia claims they’re preserving 40T open space, but the majority of that land has environmental restrictions (wetlands, steep slopes, etc). At the current time Arcadia has no plans to incorporate sports fields into their community design. Their reasoning? Residents haven’t voiced their desire for athletic fields, so they decided to build more houses, favoring smaller, more intimate “pocket parks”.

YOUR TOWNSHIP NEEDS YOU! Sadsbury Township supervisors need to be reminded that they have been elected to serve the people of this township  and after taking an oath of office are obligated to listen to the concerns of the residents.  The majority of voters cast their vote in November for Stephanie Silvernail, the only candidate running against the over-development of our community. Unfortunately, due to technicalities surrounding the write-in process, Stephanie did not win the election and Dale Hensel was appointed to the Sadsbury Board of Supervisors. Thus far the supervisors have continued to ignore the impact of the November vote and have failed to acknowledge that the majority of our residents are against their plans that favor developers. Because we have a financial and emotional stake in the future of our township, we cannot stand by and do nothing. If we do, the zoning changes will surely be approved and we will be left with crowded neighborhoods, traffic congestion, increased crime and higher taxes. In order to participate in the decisions that will shape the future of our neighborhoods, you must let your opinion be known as clearly and as often as possible. Attend meetings, send letters or make phone calls. You must act now! Waiting until a Zoning Hearing to voice your opposition may be too late. The supervisors have strong opinions and beliefs that they know what is best for our community and that the proposed developed is what Sadsbury needs for a bright future. If you disagree, and we know that nearly all of you do, then you need to join us and take a stand. This is not a contest to be won or lost. Our future is at stake. If the supervisors are so convinced that their decisions are right for our township, why don’t they answer questions at meetings to explain their reasoning? Why are they scheduling important votes at 9 a.m.? Why don’t they provide more information on their web site? A democracy is supposed to be an open form of government, not a behind-the-scenes dictatorship. S.O.S. urges you to attend any meetings that you can. A handful of people voicing their opposition isn’t going to be enough to change our future. The supervisors are counting on you to lose interest, get discourages and become silent. That’s why they do nothing to tell you about upcoming meetings and what topics are being discussed. That’s why they schedule important votes for the 9 a.m. meetings, knowing few residents can attend. Let’s not give up and make their path of destruction easy for them. We need to stay united and turn out in greater numbers to clearly communicate that we are against these changes and we demand that they listen to our views. We also urge you to call the township building at 857-9503 to complain about important votes being scheduled for the 9 a.m. meetings.

 Let your voice be heard! Together, we can make a difference!

Don’t expect your neighbors to do it for you – we all need to take a stand!

Stop Over-Development in Sadsbury (S.O.S.) 

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Interesting Timeline of Events Since 2002 

Doug Doratt took office in Jan. 2002 and Joe Garris was appointed Chairman. Since that time it appears these two supervisors have been on a mission to plunge Sadsbury Township into an age of over-development by overturning the zoning in all undeveloped areas of the township. As evidence of this, let’s look at several major things that have happened over the past two years:

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Zoning ordinances were approved in Nov. 2001: For 3 years the Planning Commission worked with the Chester County Planning Commission to adopt zoning to promote responsible development and protect our township from over-development to keep the landscapes rural.
 

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Doug Doratt took over in Jan., 2002 and Joe Garris was appointed Chairman.
 

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Early in 2002, the supervisors appointed two additional members to the Planning Commission. The majority of the original 7 members were against any rezoning. It appears Doratt/Garris were hoping the additional members might sway the majority.
 

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Five developers interested in building in Sadsbury Township approach the supervisors and suggest that they put together a comprehensive plan for the future development of Sadsbury. The Supervisors authorize, thinking this is a progressive concept.
 

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A separate “Zoning Task Force” committee was formed, separate from the Planning Commission. Task force members were hand-picked by the supervisors and asked to examine the feasibility of changing the zoning west on Rt. 30 and along Rt. 10. Doratt/Garris felt this area should be rezoned from 2-acre residential to commercial.
 

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Land planner Wayne Grafton was hired at a cost to taxpayers of >$8,000 to work with the Task Force and prepare an ordinance to encompass what he felt the zoning should look like in the Rt. 30/Rt. 10 corridors. (The Planning Commission had previously done this, in concert with the Chester County Planning Commission, at no cost to Sadsbury taxpayers).
 

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The township solicitor and township zoning officer also attend the Zoning Task Force meetings as consultants ($$$ total taxpayer cost unknown $$$).
 

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At a public meeting held on Nov. 14, 2003 >40 residents were polled, a large majority were against the commercial zoning change, but the monthly Task Force meetings continued until a draft ordinance creating a commercial overlay district with higher density hosing was prepared and presented to the supervisors.
 

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At the same time, Arcadia Land Company presented plans for Octorara Glen, a 44 home development to be built on Octorara Road. Arcadia began to introduce their plan to petition for a zoning change on 80 acres zoned Light Industrial on Old Wilm. Road to build a Planned Residential Developed (PRD) consisting of >450 dwellings.
 

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Arcadia presented a concept for their Residential Development, which included plans to construct sidewalks along Rt. 30 in Sadsburyville, creating on-street parking, and installation of landscape islands and bump-out curbs as “traffic calming” measures. The idea of sidewalks and on-street parking was met with marked opposition from the residents along Rt. 30, with only a handful supporting the proposition.
 

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Completely indifferent to the opinions of the residents directly affected by these proposed changes, the supervisors asked the Zoning Task Force to begin to examine the feasibility of sidewalks and traffic calming measures in Sadsburyville.
 

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Wayne Grafton’s services were extended at an unknown cost to tax payers. He continues to advise the Zoning Task Force, and attending all meetings, as does the township solicitor and township zoning officer.
 

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Doratt/Garris backed Dale Hensel in his campaign for Township Supervisor. Doratt sent a letter to all voters explaining that Dale would be the candidate to manage development “correctly”. As a member of the Zoning Task Force, Dale had previously voted to support the commercial overlay rezone.
 

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JYF Partners requested a zoning change to build >135 condominiums on 12.5 acres along Meeting House Lane and Bus. Rt. 30. The Planning Commission denied their request twice. If was their opinion that this area did not support such high density.
 

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JYF Partners petitioned the supervisors for the zoning change. At the Dec. 3 zoning hearing, dozens of residents voiced their opposition, but again, Doratt and Garris totally ignored their opinions and voted for the zoning change, allowing JYF to build 10 units per acre, or approximately 125 condos.
 

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Not only did this change affect the 12.5 acres owned by JYF, but it also affects several other undeveloped R2 properties within the township, which could potentially result in multiple apartment complexes netting close to 1,000 apartments in Sadsbury Township.
 

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Doug Doratt owns undeveloped property zoned R2.
 

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At the Dec. 2nd and 3rd zoning hearings, no effort was made to move the meeting to the Fire House to alleviate the crowded township building and public comment was limited to 45 minutes.
 

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An article in the DLN in Dec. detailing the 2004 township budget quotes Doratt saying that he is most excited about the prospect of a new municipal complex. Rumor has it that Arcadia is offering to build a new municipal building for the township, once their >450 dwelling development is underway. The reason this is only rumor is because this has yet to be discussed at any public meeting, suggesting that the proposed municipal building has been discussed outside of the public forum.
 

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At the Jan. 5 reorganization meeting, Planning Commission members Silvernail and Franciscus were not reappointed. Unless a committee members wishes not to seek reappointment, members have traditionally been automatically reappointed in Sadsbury Township. But not this time.
 

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At the Jan. 20th meeting at 9 a.m. the supervisors voted to decrease the number of members in the Planning Commission from 9 to 7, thereby eliminating the positions vacated by Silvernail and Franciscus, who were consistently opposed to over-development. (They increased the membership from 7 to 9 only 2 years before).
 

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The vote for the commercial overlay zoning change was advertised to take place on Feb. 17th at 9 a.m., a time when most residents are at work and won’t be able to attend.
 

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The supervisors have requested that Wayne Grafton prepare a new Comprehensive Plan for Sadsbury Township ($$$ cost unknown $$$)
 

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Miscellaneous items: The quarterly township newsletter stopped immediately after Doratt took office. The township website did not contain current meeting minutes until recently, after someone questioned why the website didn’t include current meeting minutes. No notices of public meetings are posted at area stores or Post Offices, unless S.O.S. posts them. And, these notices, as well as information regarding Sadsburyville.com are often immediately torn down.
 

If you connect the dots, it seems obvious that Doratt/Garris and now Hensel (who supported the commercial overlay zoning change) are determined to go against the wishes of the residents and subject our township to poorly planned over-development and higher taxes. What’s more, they are accomplishing that at a tremendous cost to those same residents and taxpayers!

When other neighboring townships are taking steps to preserve open space, why are our supervisors so motivated to destroy our rural landscape? West Sadsbury is fighting the proposed 650 townhomes on Moscow Road, with Board members from Octorara School District stating that this development would sharply increase school taxes. In contrast, our supervisors appear to be throwing down the welcome mat to any and all developers who want to fit as many buildings as possible on our open spaces.

The enclosed zoning map highlights all the areas in our township that are subject to zoning changes. At the bottom right of this map is also an estimated impact on the population and traffic our township will endure if the proposed development continues on its present course. Please join us in opposing this abuse of our land.

 Stop Over-Development in Sadsbury (S.O.S.)

 

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Last modified: 12/01/07