E. Marlbough set to hike some fees

Costs to install pools, seek zoning variance to increase in 2011

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com
EAST MARLBOROUGH — Those thinking about installing a pool in 2011 are likely to face higher fees from the township, although it’s possible Monday night’s decision to raise fees from $175 to $250 might be revisited, along with a number of other fee increases approved during the township’s Board of Supervisors annual reorganization meeting.

Township manager Jane Laslo suggested the increase on pool installs specifically because, she said, she finds that they tend to take up more administrative time, with multiple phone calls between the township, the property owner, the contractor and the pool company. As each township in the area has differing rules on set back requirements and such, it Laslo or other staff often must walk applicants through the rules.

Although the vote ended up being unanimous, supervisors Robert Weer and Richard Hicks questioned the need for an increase, asking whether the pool applicants took up more township time than those applying to build an addition on their homes. Laslo said, in her experience, the pools are more “complicated” and that about half of the plans end up before the township’s Zoning Hearing Board to seek a variance, usually due to set back issues.

“I spend a significant amount of time on pool permits,” she said.

The township also opted to increase fees for those seeking variances — with residential  fees increased to $550, while all other uses were increased from $600 to $750. Initially, the increase on non-residential variances was proposed as smaller, but supervisors chair Cuyler Walker noted that it seemed unfair not to increase those fees at the same approximate proportion to the residential fees and the rest of board agreed.

The entire fee structure will likely be revisited at the February meeting, as there were some questions about other fees — specifically those for parties seeking curative amendments, changes to township zoning that deemed unfair by property owners.

In other news, the Board of Supervisors unanimously reelected Walker as chair of the board and Hicks as Vice Chair.

The township fared moderately well through last week’s snowstorm, although roadmaster and supervisor Eddie Caudill noted two issues: the transmission on one truck broke during the heart of the storm, and there was a minor mishap with another township truck being involved in a minor accident. Still, despite those set backs, the township was able to clear the roads in a timely fashion. Walker said he’d gotten several comments from residents expressing appreciation for how well it was done.

Finally, Laslo noted that the township ended 2010 in the black, with a slight surplus because of better than anticipated transfer tax fees.

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