Supervisors address Barnard House funding worries

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Pocopson officials say building renovation won’t boost taxes

By Kelli Siehl, Staff Writer, The Times

Pocopson officials say that a planned renovation of the Barnard House into a new township building and home of the Kennett Underground Railway Museum will not lead to an increase in local taxes.

POCOPSON — During Monday night’s township Board of Supervisors’ meeting, residents expressed relief at hearing that officials do not foresee a local tax increase to pay for planned renovations to the historic Barnard House.

Supervisors eagerly answered questions prior to approving four separate bid packages including a General Construction Contract, Plumbing, Mechanical and Electrical.

Several residents asked what effect the project would have on taxes since they are already paying more to cover open space.  Conary said supervisors “do not anticipate a tax increase at this point” and added that officials previously received a rough estimate of around $750,000 for the renovation.

Conary noted that the exact “cost will not be known until the bids come in…that is why the package was prepared.” Although, he said, the township is being frugal and practical in the matter – officials say they want an end product that makes everyone happy.

To pay for the project, Conary said, the township would take out a low-interest loan and pay it off over twenty years using general fund revenue. Supervisors stated that at current low rates, the payment would be about $46,000 per year. Supervisor’s Vice-Chair, Georgia Brutscher said the township is now budgeting $50,000 per year just to maintain the structure in its current, unusable state.

Residents also asked if the cost of the traffic circle slated for the intersection of Rt 52, Lenape-Unionville and Wawaset Roads will have an impact on the funding of the Barnard House. Officials stated the project would not have a negative impact on funding of the Barnard House because the township already had the funds to perform engineering and design work for the circle. Conary said the majority of the project will be paid for by PennDOT using state and federal money.

According to Conary, the next step is solicitation for bids. There will be a pre-bidder meeting on Aug. 22. Bids are due prior to Sept. 4. The bid results will be revealed at the Sept. 10 Board of Supervisors’ meeting.

Conary added that the township is unsure what they would do with the current structure if they proceed with the project, “whether we would sell it and use the money to pay off the loan.” He added, “There are still many questions that should become clear when the bids are announced at the September Board of Supervisors’ meeting.”

Putting the project out to bid does not obligate the township to do the project — should circumstances change or the bids come in too high then the township supervisors have the right to reject any and all bids received.

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Township resident Nora Margetich may continue to keep alpacas on her 2.2 acre Lenape Road property, after a settlement with the township.

Margetich was cited in March for violating the township’s land use ordinance by keeping a pack of 20 alpacas on her 2.2 acre property. At that time, Margetich maintained that her property fell under a special pre-existing, nonconforming land use provision since animals were housed there by the previous owner.

Margetich went before the Chester County Zoning Hearing Board about the matter and Supervisors agreed to the proposed settlement allowing Margetich to keep 10 single sex animals on her property – either all males or all females. She will also follow stipulations of the current township ordinance.

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PennDOT performed a traffic study along South Wawaset Road recently after several residents reported cars traveling at what seemed to be a high rate of speed along the narrow, windy roadway. PennDOT recommended lowering the speed limit to 30mph and the installation of park entrance signs along the route.

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