Possible ordinance change in Birmingham

A possible change to Birmingham Township’s Historical Commission ordinance brought a packed house to the Board of Supervisors’ June 6 meeting. Residents expressed a variety of concerns, most notably the fear that a change would leave historic resources unprotected

Other concerns included not being able to find the proposed ordinance on the township’s website, and Historical Commission members feeling left out of some of the decision-making process.

Supervisors’ Chairman Scott Boorse said the ordinance was on the agenda solely to get comments from the residents, and that nothing was going to be enacted Monday. Supervisors’ Vice Chairman Michael Stiring reiterated that point.

“There’s no ordinance going to be adopted tonight…I don’t believe there’s going to be any adoption of this ordinance in its current form…in the next month, or two, or three,” Shiring said.

He went on to say the proposal, which has been bandied about for several years, is just an attempt to streamline the process for residents who want to develop or make additions to their properties and not require those residents to spend the extra time or money required with several layers or stops at the Historical Commission meetings, and Board of Supervisors meetings for modifications or additions that are relatively minor.

“We supervisors started this process, not with the intent to reduce the historic resources protection of the properties. I live in an historic property so it’s not our intent to reduce that historic resource protection. We want to make the process more streamlined,” Stiring added.

He explained that many times, residents would come to the township looking to change windows or add a deck, only to get bogged down in a process that added months to the township’s review of the application.

One of the other concerns from residents and even the county Planning Commission is that there is a section in the proposed change that deals with the interior of historic resources and homes. According to Shiring, the county’s review letter has said that section should be removed completely. He said the township has no interest in involving itself with how residents paint their homes’ interiors.

The current draft of the proposal may be found here but note that it’s not final and will be changed during the next few months. Solicitor Kristin Camp said the process of adopting this type of ordinance includes sending copies to both the county and township planning commissions, and the township Historic Commission, and then t must be advertised for adoption.

Residents may continue to comment by emailing questions and concerns to township Manager Quina Nelling.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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