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Officials Hear Residents' Requests To Change Proposed Act 537 Plan

Residents propose changes to the proposed Act 537 sewage facilities plan hoping to make it better for their neighborhoods.

After Tuesday night’s Newtown Township meeting to provide another opportunity for residents' comments and questions concerning the township’s proposed sewage facilities plan, there can be no doubt that resident interest and concern is high. 

And, with the holidays behind everyone, this meeting was attended by well over 100 residents. Unfortunately, it appeared as though only Township Manager Mike Trio, Township Solicitor Richard Sokorai, and Township Sewer Engineer James  MacCombie were able to attend. I did not see any of the supervisors in the crowd. 

I wish all of the supervisors had attended. I wish this meeting had been televised. Then, Mr. MacCombie would not have to relay to them today some of the changes to the plan that could show residents that township officials want this plan to be the best, most technically competent sewage facilities plan for all the residents of Newtown.

All the supervisors would have heard a passionate and well-prepared township resident Ray Lopez offer a detailed proposal that showed that the plan could be changed to, once and for all, retire the Springton Pointe Wastewater treatment plant. 

Ray showed how his proposal would be much more beneficial for his neighborhood of Springton Pointe Estates as well as the Springton Pointe Woods residents. That is, because rather than turn the wastewater treatment plant into a pump station and dramatically expanding the Camelot Pump Station to predominately serve the commercial users of Marville, Campus Boulevard and Melmark, Ray proposed more than one change that could be made that would provide these facilities via West Chester Pike. 

Before the meeting, Ray had even contacted the PA Department of Transportation about this proposal to ensure that it was possible.  He was able to confirm that PennDOT would allow this route.  And, although Mr. MacCombie suggested that this path may be more expensive, Ray had another engineer, Kevin Matson, who detailed all the ways in which this alternative may very well be less expensive.  Hopefully, Mr. MacCombie will meet with Ray to see if these changes will be implemented prior to this plan going to the supervisors for action. It would be great if needed changes were made before the supervisors adopt the plan. 

Mr. MacCombie also heard again from the residents of Camelot Pump Station about the smell, noise and overall annoyance they live with currently because of the pump station. Two things came to mind as a result of this discussion.

First if, as Mr. MacCombie indicated, this pump station could be fixed so that there would be no smell and the annoying sounds could be reduced, why is he not proposing to fix it NOW. Two, please don’t tell the residents, as Mr. Trio did last night, to call 911 if there is a problem with the pump station after township business hours. Tell them to call the new Public Works Director George Sharretts, so that he could take care of the problem. Like the resident that spoke last night, I thought and would prefer to see 911 used for emergencies. Township sewer emergencies should not, in my view, go to the 911 operator.

It would seem Mr. MacCombie was willing to consider and make changes. He said last night that he has already made at least one significant change to the plan.  Apparently, he met with the residents who live on Goshen Road who were to have a pump station 100 feet from their home and has now moved it. The question now is, where has the pump station moved?

In addition to changes that could be made for Springton Pointe Estates and Springton Pointe Woods, Mr. MacCombie was asked about making changes to the areas of Hunt Valley Circle and Echo Valley. In both areas, there appear to be changes that could be made that would ensure a better technical and more resident centered plan.  I hope that Mr. MacCombie will meet with these residents and make changes to the plan.   

Mr. Sokorai indicated last night that the township was still in the planning process. As that is the case, I hope township officials continue to plan and make changes. After the changes, I hope they will provide the plan for review again. That way, when this plan gets to the supervisors to consider, it can be the best plan for all residents.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paul Guest January 09, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Last evening's meeting was very productive and informative. Mr. Sokorai confirmed two important points that effect all of us. 1. The law requires that all users pay the same tapping fee. 2. The Township is not obligated to provide BPG the 267,000 gpd it previously claimed it was entitled to. The proposed plan allocates BPG 185,000 gpd. As to the tapping fee, Ashford and the Township fixed all tapping fees in the agreement it signed with Ashford in 2011. Ashford is paying a set amount for 115,000 gpd. Our tapping fees will be the same. All we have to know is the amount that Ashford is paying and then do the math. This is a known amount to the Township. My guess is that Ashford is paying approximately $25/gallon. That would be $2,875,000. Each of our homes are allocated 262.5 gpd. At $25/gpd that would be a tapping fee of $6,562.50. If we all pay the same, why can't the Twonship do the math and tell us the truth? Our tapping fees were fixed by the 2011 agreement with Ashford.
Paul Guest January 09, 2013 at 09:44 PM
2. Mr. Sokorai confirmed that BPG is allocated 185,000 gpd under the proposed plan. One problem with the 2009 Plan was that the Township had agreed that BPG was entitled to 267,000 gpd. There are only 961,975 gpd available, some of which are already being used. In the 2009 appeal, BPG strongly litigated its right to obtain 267,000 gpd. The Township did not dispute that. Now, Mr. Sokoari says BPG only gets 185,000 gpd, however he was less than convincing to me on why and how that is. The significance of this is that if BPG is entitled to 267,000, (as I know it was) there is not enough remaining capacity to service all of the proposed service areas. This is one of the reasons why approval of the 2009 plan was rescinded. The Township simply did not have enough capacity to service all the the areas that were included in the plan. We need an explanation of why and how BPG is now only getting 185,000 gpd and an analysis of the cost to us for that reduction. If BPG is not paying $25 for 82,000 gallons, that is worth $2,050,000. Part of that found capacity could be allocated to Springton Pointe Estates, which already has a public sewer system and does not have to pay another tapping fee.
Paul Guest January 09, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Finnally, I found it troubling that Mr. MacCombie was not made aware of the representations of Ashford and BPG in the past several years when both developers were requesting land development approvals. They both represented that they would oversize their pump stations and force mains for free to accomodate flows from Echo Valley, Hunt Valley Circle and Melmark so that it would go right down the pipe in 252. DeBotton was also going to provide force mains to accomodate Florida Park. It is true that neither MacCombie nor Sokorai were involved then, but the same Supervisors were and according to Mr. MacCombie, didn't share that information. Mr. MacCombie was aware of the 2011 agreement with Ashford and said he wasn't pleased with it. Regardless, the Township is bound by it. Now, flow from Melmark ends up at Camelot Lane. That is from the northwest corner of the Township to the southeast corner and is probably about as far as it can travel and still be in the Township.
Paul Guest January 09, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Gravity has its attractions but is more expensive partly because it requires more digging and many common pump stations that we see in the proposed plan. Echo Valley, Hunt Valley, Melmark and Forida Park were originally planned to be low pressure and use the developer's, oversized infrastructure. Now all of that, except 136 homes in Echo Valley are gravity. This plan statred out costing less than $20,000,000. Now the estimate is $25,000,000. Keep in mind that the tapping fees are fixed and Springton Pointe Estates pays nothing. Whatever amount of the bond that is not paid off from the tapping fees, must be carried by the user fees, which will be increased because of extensive use of more expensive gravity and less tapping fees by adding Springton Pointe Estates.
Jon B January 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM
What Myself and my neighbors got out of this whole 537 debacle is this township needs IMMEDIATE CHANGE ON THE BOARD OF SUPERVISOR LEVEL AND THE POLITICAL MACHINE WHO SUPPORT THESE SUPERVISORS!! The next supervisor election STARTS NOW, THIS YEAR! There are two spots opening up and if any resident thinks that the two endorsed candidates by the current COMMITTEPEOPLE will have any fortitude whatsoever is simply living in disneyworld! Wood and lambert MUST be replaced by independent residents not being puppeteers of gillin, Catania and the current GOP. It seems that Newtown township MUST LOOK outside the GOP BOX- independents or democrats. Don't vote for the party , vote for the person!
Irv January 10, 2013 at 10:07 PM
I thought residents were paying Patti to stay away from the meetings???
Boot Road Resident January 11, 2013 at 04:51 PM
Paul - thanks so much for your comments. I appreciate it. My only question is how is the 82,000 gpd gap between what BPG wants and what it will be getting going to be filled. It looks like it will not be through more capacity in the system. It sounds like 315 homes will have to be removed from the system. Am I interpreting that right?
Paul Guest January 11, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Boot Road Resident: You are interperting this right. 82,000 gpd services 312 homes. However, to be clear, I'm not saying that BPG now wants 267,000 gpd. I am saying that, I know for a fact that a few years ago the Township did agree to provide BPG 267,000 gpd, notwithstanding that the 2009 plan had only 185,000 available and at the trial of the 2009 plan, BPG litigated to get the 267,000 gpd. BPG has been suprisingly silent lately and I don't know how much it wants. The Township has 961,975 gpd available, some of which is being used already. Once it is gone, there is no more. Knowing that adequate capacity is a critical issue and that BPG is a formidable entity, Mr. Sokoari's answer about how much BPG gets didn't convince me. After the 2009 plan, the Township circulated the Echo Valley and Florida Park special studies. Those proposal were to service both areas by low pressure, through the developers pump stations however it proposed to service only 67 of the 208 Echo Valley homes and about 80 of 97 Florida Park homes. My home was excluded from the Echo Valley Special Study and I want to have the Township Solicitor convince me that there is an enforceable agreement with BPG that it gets 185,000 gpd and no more, ever.

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