Pocopson’s past board decisions back in play

Residents in bucolic Pocopson Township got a reminder at the supervisors’ meeting on Monday, Feb. 22, that some of the actions of past boards are not set in concrete.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte and Ricki Stumpo review documents during Monday night's meetings.

Pocopson Township Supervisors Alice Balsama (from left), Elaine DiMonte and Ricki Stumpo review documents during Monday night's meetings.

The supervisors indicated that several issues, including the future of the Barnard House and the earned-income tax (EIT), would be revisited and thoroughly reviewed, and they voted to undo one previous action: the authorization of an inventory of historic buildings in the township.

Under an agreement with the county that was approved in June amid dissent, Pocopson committed to pay $42,000 to the county with the understanding that at the conclusion of the study, it would receive $30,000 in Vision Partnership grant funds.

Supervisors’ Chairwoman Ricki Stumpo, who voted against the measure in June, pointed out that the township’s Historical Committee did an inventory in 2006. “It’s sitting in a drawer somewhere,” she said, adding that $42,000 seemed to be excessive to research 64 homes.

Supervisor Elaine DiMonte pointed out that some of the owners of the historic properties weren’t even interested in cooperating. Resident Randy Mims, a member of the Historical Committee, said he had opposed the study. “They could never tell me what they were going to use this for,” he said.

Because the study would benefit so few residents and because it contained an exit clause with 30 days’ notice, the supervisors voted to terminate it. They said they had paid $5,456 since June and would request that work product.

The supervisors said they are working to obtain the two outstanding permits for electrical work and structural engineering at the Barnard House. Without those documents, the township cannot get a certificate of occupancy so that the Kennett Underground Railroad Center (KURC) can move into its portion of the building.

In a unanimous vote, the supervisors accepted the resignation of Richard Jensen, who served as the township’s codes officer as well as project manager for the Barnard House. The project manager duties will now be handled by Keystone Municipal Services, Stumpo said.

A celebration followed Monday night's supervisors' meeting as Supervisor Elaine DiMonte cuts a birthday cake for Supervisors' Chairman Ricki Stumpo,

A celebration followed Monday night's supervisors' meeting as Supervisor Elaine DiMonte cuts a birthday cake for Supervisors' Chairman Ricki Stumpo,

The supervisors also agreed to try and schedule a meeting with the Chester County Commissioners to discuss options for the remaining portion of the Barnard House. The county sold the building to the township for $1 in 2008, a purchase that came with some restrictions on its use.

Although the historic building, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, was originally envisioned as the home of KURC as well as the township’s offices, the latter use has hit a number of obstacles due to the building’s layout and renovation costs, the supervisors said. In an effort to move forward, they authorized Township Secretary Susan Simone to obtain estimates for completing work on the building’s windows and doors.

“We’re kind of at a crossroads,” said Supervisor Alice Balsama.

On a more positive note, the supervisors applauded the work that has gone into the Locust Grove Schoolhouse, a project that has been financed with more than $500,000 in donations and grants, none of which required a township match.

Kris Firey-Poling, chair of the Historical Committee, said one of the committee’s goals is to get residents involved in the schoolhouse project. “We really want them to come and visit and participate,” she said, adding that a couple of initiatives are scheduled.

On May 7, volunteers will be priming the schoolhouse walls and ceiling, and on May 19, volunteers from XL Catlin will participate in a global day of giving by doing the painting. A year ago, eight workers from the company’s Exton office participated in a successful paint-scraping detail.

Poling said the committee voted recently 6-3 to complete the remaining work without using money budgeted by the township. Stumpo asked when the project might be available for public programs. When told that it would take a couple of years, she asked whether township funds could expedite the process.

Sarah Mims, a member of the Historical Committee, said the project could be completed as soon as the fall if the committee had the funds. However, she stressed that the group does not want to rely on public money. “Can we explore a loan?” she asked, adding a caution that some of the grant regulations might not permit that arrangement.

In other business, resident David Poling inquired about the township’s EIT and the fact that it had doubled. “What’s the township doing with that tax money?” he asked.

The supervisors responded that the tax is one of several items on their list for reevaluation. “This is one of the items on our agenda,” Balsama said.

Stumpo added that because the township no longer has space available for developers, it needs to come up with funds to replace the subdivision income; however, she said the EIT might not be the fairest option. “This is something we plan to discuss,” she said.

Balsama agreed, pointing out that the analysis would take some time. “We’re not going to be precipitous about it,” she said.

The next supervisors’ meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 14. In the meantime, Stumpo issued a reminder for residents’ having trouble resisting the baby chicks for sale at Brandywine Ace Hardware: Township ordinances require at least ½ acre of land to keep up to five chickens.


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