Resident questions cost, impact of battle reenactment

Resident questions solar power fee costs

By Liz Brown, Staff Writer, The Times

582902BIRMINGHAM — A  township resident pushed the Board of Supervisors to be more upfront about the cost and likely impact of a reenactment of the Battle of the Brandywine, during Monday night’s supervisors meeting.

Debbie Hineman of Meetinghouse Road questioned the board about the financial cost of the battle reenactment scheduled for next May.

Supervisor John Conklin estimated that the cost will be somewhere around $20,000 gross outlays, before any donations or sponsorships are counted against that cost.

Hineman further expressed concern that the residents of Birmingham Hunt and other surrounding neighborhoods have not been adequately informed about the event, and should be told more about this “big two-day event that’s going to draw thousands and thousands of people and Lord knows how many cars.”

Supervisor Bill Kirkpatrick responded that the Homeowners Associations have been informed. He also commented that the committee working on the event is made up of about 40 very talented people, many of whom live in those neighborhoods and are sensitive to the traffic and safety issues.

Much more detail will be available as the date of the event draws closer.

Hineman asked whether this event would be repeated annually as a replacement for the reenactments historically performed at the Brandywine Battlefield Park in Chadds Ford, and as a result become a burden to Birmingham taxpayers.  Kirkpatrick emphatically replied, “Absolutely not. We are not committed to anything beyond May, 2014.”

Conklin called attention to the map of the battlefield and noted that residents can find where their homes are located within the battlefield, and if “you live in Birmingham, you are on that map,” explaining why he believes these kinds of events worthwhile.

Another resident, Michael Sarnacki of Pheasant Run, was present to address his frustrations about the township’s process and requirements for installing solar panels on his house.  Sarnacki asked the board why the township charges excessive fees for permits for this work in comparison to other townships. He noted the federal government clearly encourages this ecologically progressive activity by reimbursing homeowners up to 30% of the cost. Conklin responded, “I wouldn’t assume that everything the federal government is behind is supported by this municipality.”

Secretatry Quina Nelling explained that $1,000 of the “fees” are a down payment toward administrative costs incurred by the township.

In other township news, Roadmaster Dave Rathburn reported that all bridge and road work has been completed for the summer.  He commented that the current plan is to repave township roads every 20-25 years based on average usage. The money used to do this work is from the State Liquid Fuels tax paid to the township by the state.  Inspections are conducted on all roads in the township twice a year.

Spring Meadow residents Grace Kaminstein and Lenore Larry were present at the meeting to ensure the builder of a new home on a historical property in the neighborhood is taking into consideration all aesthetic concerns pertinent to the development.  Members of the Historic Commission reviewed the builder’s plans and agreed that all was in order.

Representatives from the West Chester Library made a short presentation about the current challenges faced by libraries to find relevance in today’s environment, while facing state funding cutbacks and inflation. Board president Richard May stated “It’s not all about books; it’s about information… and collaborating and becoming part of the greater community.”  Victoria Dow, library director, said the relatively new process of lending e-books is getting heavy use. If you have a library card you can log in and temporarily download from about 9,000 titles onto your e-reader.  They thanked Birmingham Township for supporting the library.

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  1. Michael Sarnacki says:

    Thanks for your comments Karen… obviously I couldn’t agree more. Just an update, my solar panels have now been approved by the zoning hearing board, and our project is complete. Unfortunately, the fees the township charged ended up being closer to $1,700. ($500 application fee, $1000 escrow, and $200 in permit fees), all for a standard residential installation of 10 panels. Of the escrow, they returned $162, which just about covered the cost of sending certified mailings to neighbors. None objected, and several wrote letters of support! Now that my project is finished, I’m actively seeking to change their policy so that others do not have to go through this ridiculous process. I’ve amassed a small coalition of fellow Birmingham residents that want to see this policy changed. My email is if your interested.

  2. Karen D'Agusto says:

    I am appalled at the response given by Supervisor Conklin that inferred that the township is not in support of the use of solar panels on one’s home. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that the $1000.00 in fees is totally excessive and motivated by greed and , perhaps, a little, something behind the scenes. I hope there is an investigation of this issue.

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