On-site sewers were the lead topic during the April 19 conditional use hearing in Westtown Township concerning Toll Bros. proposed development of Crebilly Farm. But the testimony, according to one supervisor, was strictly to satisfy a township requirement. Neither Toll nor the township wants an on-site system.
Engineer Fred Ebert, whose area of expertise is wastewater engineering, said his recommendation is always to use public sewer systems whenever possible.
“I always prefer public sewers,” he said explaining that they’re more efficient, both in the actual treatment of wastewater and more cost effective. Sewer rates tend to be lower for users on a public system because costs are spread out among more users.
But Ebert testified for 90 minutes on the types of on-site systems possible and that he considered three different types for the Crebilly Farm, each one using biological processes for treatment and drip discharge for disposal of the treated effluent.
He said there is adequate disposal area on the property for an on-site system — adequate to handle 110 percent of the projected need — and that the soils are capable of handling such a treatment and disposal method.
Ebert stressed the cleanliness of the effluent, saying the goal is to emulate nature” “Treated effluent should be as close to rain water as possible.”
During cross-examination, Ebert was asked several times about how well an on-site system could handle pharmaceuticals dumped into the system. He said the could treat wastewater containing pharmaceuticals without contaminating groundwater, but acknowledged “nothing’s perfect.” He said a public system would do a better job.
During a recess after Ebert testified, Supervisor Tom Haws told a group in a hallway that while both Toll and the township want public sewers for the development if it’s approved, the testimony regarding on-site systems is to satisfy a township requirement.
He said the township’s Act 537 Plan, the sewer plan filed with the Department of Environmental Protection, calls for developments in that part of the township be serviced with on-site systems, so the developer must to show the property is capable of handling an on-site wastewater treatment. Without demonstrating that, supervisors could reject the proposed development, Haws said.
After the meeting, township solicitor Patrick McKenna said Toll might later submit a planning module to change from the private to the public system.
Following the recess, Robert Wise was called to testify on historic resources on Crebilly Farm. Wise is a former planner with the Brandywine Conservancy, having worked there from 1993 to 1997. His specialty is historic preservation.
Wise went into the history of the farm, saying there were originally two farms bought by the Hunt family in 1748. The Robinson family bought the property in 1935. He identified several historic structures on the property that Toll has agreed to preserve.
During the 1777 Battle of Brandywine, Wise said, Crebilly Farm was on the far eastern perimeter of British forces, but there was no evidence of any significant battle action. Fighting was to the west and south of the farm. To demonstrate the lack of fighting at the farm, he said the Hunt family never sued for property damaged after the battle.
Cross-examination of Wise was cut short because it was approaching the 10 p.m. deadline but will resume in May. The next session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 at Rustin High School.