Episcopal Academy Moves Ahead With Sewer Project

Newtown Township Zoning Hearing Board granted approval for Episcopal Academy's special exception to construct a sanitary sewer force main through a floodplain on Dec. 15 with conditions on approval by the township, county and state.

NEWTOWN SQUARE–Members of 's Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously on Dec. 15 to move forward with 's application to construct a sanitary sewer force main through a flood hazard district in the township to provide a public sanitary sewer service to the school.

The school, located on 1785 Bishop White Drive, off of Newtown Street Road/Route 252, sought to seek a special exception, the first step of many approvals for the project, on Thursday night's meeting to construct a sewer line through the southern part of their property, owned by Ashford Land Co. L.P.

"Episcopal Academy has been handling the sanitary sewage for the campus by pump and haul since they opened in August of 2008," explained Donald Petrosa, an attorney representing the school.

According to Petrosa, during the earlier land development stages of the project, the township had indicated to the school that they "didn't want them to have any kind of onsite system but they wanted us to connect to the public sanitary sewer system to the Ashford property."

Angelo Capuzzi of Chester Valley Engineers and the engineer on the project testified during the hearing stated that Ashford's sub-division plans were previously approved by the Board of Supervisors in July, which had included the school tying into the sewer line on the Ashford property.

"The school is utilizing a pump and haul operation under a contract with Aqua Pennsylvania," explained Capuzzi. "Pump and haul is supposed to be a temporary interim measure for sewage disposal. It's not meant to be a long-term solution."

According to Capuzzi, the force main will be 4 inches in diameter made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC pipe) and 0.265 inches thick. In addition, the pipe will be underground, encased in 6 inches of concrete and the ground elevation, or floodplain elevation, would not change.

Capuzzi testified that the proposed sanitary sewer force main would not cause any danger to nearby lands downstream.

Though the Zoning Hearing Board members voted 4-0 in approval for the school's special exception to construct the sewer force main on the Ashford property, one resident publicly testified that she was against the project.

Patricia Wilson, of Battles Lane in Echo Valley, said that Ashford's planning module was not approved and returned for technical deficiencies.

Although Ashford does not have approval from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the sewer module, Capuzzi said that the school does have approval from the DEP for the sewer module. The module conveys that the school will pump out 11,000 gallons per day to the Central Delaware County Authority's sewer system.

Wilson wrote a formal letter in opposition to Episcopal Academy's special exception to construct a sewer force main to the school and Zoning Hearing Board, in which she highlights that the special exceptioni request by the school was "premature," considering the Ashford's planning module was not approved by the DEP yet. She states in her letter:

"Prior planning by Episcopal [Academy] indicates that this request is not necessary. In their sewage planning application to the Department of Environmental Protection, Episcopal proposed a pump station on its property and conveyed sewage in a 4-inch diameter force main to an existing sanitary sewer manhole located at the intersection of Newtown Street Road/Route 252 and Dudie Drive. This proposal is both possible and there's no indicator that would present an economic hardship to Episcopal. As you may be aware, the township is undertaking a revision of their 537 Plan. This is their township-wide comprehensive sewage facilities planning document. As a result of this planning, Episcopal may not be determined to necessitate going in the floodplain. At the very least–this request by Episcopal is premature. When the 537 planning process is completed, if necessary, Episcopal could make a request for a special exception at that time."

The special exception was approved based on conditions on  approval by the township, county and state.


Note: The original version of this article has been modified.


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