Borough to take aim at overweight trucks

An intergovernmental police cooperation agreement generated the evening’s liveliest discourse during a Kennett Square Borough Council meeting on Monday, April 4, with a diverse, lengthy agenda.

The agreement, which ultimately passed 5-2, outlines an arrangement intended to permit police in both the borough and Kennett Township to provide law enforcement services in Anson B. Nixon Park, Herb Pennock Park, the bridge on State Street, and any Kennett Township roadway with a legal weight restriction.

Mayor Matt Fetick explained that the borough approached the township in an effort to reduce the perennial impact of overweight trucks. He explained that the borough did not have the authority to enforce weight restrictions on the bridge because it is located about 500 feet outside its borders. It also didn’t have the $30,000 needed to purchase the scales and other necessary equipment.

Kennett Township, which does not have officers certified to conduct the inspections, agreed to fund half of the equipment and authorize the borough’s certified officers to enforce the weight limits. Any fines would be split between the two, said Borough Manager Joseph Scalise.

In the process of drafting the agreement, which has already been approved by the township, Fetick said it made sense to include cooperative language for the parks. Although Herb Pennock Park is located entirely in Kennett Township, the borough owns it. But the borough owns only a small portion of Anson B. Nixon Park, most of which lies within the township boundaries, Scalise said.

Councilman Wayne Braffman, who, along with Councilman Jamie Mallon, voted against the agreement, pointed out that the language specified that the borough provide law enforcement services in the township but did not specify that the township reciprocate, an omission that Fetick called an oversight that would be corrected.

Braffman and Mallon advocated waiting for the corrections before approving the pact, but several council members suggested that the agreement would be easy to amend and passing it would enable the police to begin fixing the truck problem sooner.

Resident John Thomas said he feared that because the borough has more officers, the agreement might become one-sided. “Kennett Township doesn’t have enough officers,” he said. “We’re going to patrol the parks at our expense.”

Fetick strongly disagreed. “It’s a cooperative approach,” he said. He pointed out that the departments frequently back each other up, and he suggested that overall, the borough has more to gain than the township.

Other ordinance changes, which passed unanimously, included an amendment that would enable the borough to ban parking on several narrow roads during inclement weather so the Public Works Department could access them, and an amendment that revised some long-term parking restrictions for eight areas of the borough.

Following a recommendation from the Historic Architecture Review Board, council unanimously approved a certificate of appropriateness for 220 N. Union St., known as the Chalfont House. Borough Council President Danilo P. Maffei called the residence “probably the most significant piece of architecture the borough has.”

The building, which was designed by renowned architect Frank Furness in 1884 for William Chalfont, sustained damage from a fire in December 2014. HARB chair Andrew J. Froning said he “was dismayed that some of the detail will be lost” in the reconstruction.

However, noting the uniqueness of the structure – courtesy of “the wacky Furness style” – Froning said the HARB recognized that replicating the exact design would represent a hardship for the owners, Jayne Bair and David Francis. Moreover, the proposed renovations would “not be disruptive to the historic nature of the borough.”

In other business, Borough Council approved a handful of appointments. Residents John Thomas and Sally Warren will serve on the Brandywine Battlefield Task Force, and Liam Warren, a student at the University of Delaware who is studying energy and environmental policy, was approved to fill a vacancy on the Landfill Authority.

Council passed three special-event applications: Third Thursdays on May 19, June 16, July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15; the Memorial Day Parade on May 30; and Brewfest on Oct. 1.

Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square, said the Third Thursday event, which closes State Street and enables restaurants to create more al fresco dining, has been so popular that the September date was added.

In response to concerns raised by Borough Councilman Ethan Cramer about Brewfest’s potential for facilitating drunk-driving, Hutchins said, “It is a risk, but we do our best to curb that.” She said the event, which typically sells out, is the association’s major fundraiser. She said designated drivers as well as the use of limos and buses are strongly encouraged. In addition, she said volunteers watch as people are leaving to see if anyone appears impaired.

“I do think those kind of measures are important,” Cramer responded, explaining that anyone who’s lost a family member to drunk-driving would appreciate that vigilance.

Cramer also pointed out that a draft of a suggestion form was attached to the meeting agendas, one of several recommendations from council’s ad hoc communications committee. Feedback on the form would be welcomed, he said.

Braffman thanked his colleagues for their willingness to experiment with many of the committee’s recommendations. “I’m excited that the entire council has embraced the concept of greater cooperation and community involvement,” he said.

Finally, Maffei suggested that all members of council in favor of adjourning respond by saying, “Go, Wildcats!”

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