New Garden will celebrate 300th birthday this year

Supervisors say event likely to be commemorated in fall

By Kathleen Brady SheaManaging Editor, The Times

Interim Township Manager Spence Andress (from left) listens as Supervisors Patrick Little and Randy Geouque discuss provisions of a proposed special events ordinance.

Interim Township Manager Spence Andress (from left) listens as Supervisors Patrick Little and Randy Geouque discuss provisions of a proposed special events ordinance.

New Garden Township residents have an e-newsletter, a 300th birthday celebration, sewer-rate increases, and improvements to the Sharp and Sheehan Road/Rt. 41 intersection in their future, according to actions taken at the supervisors’ meeting on Monday, March 17.

The supervisors voted to authorize the formation of a Communications Committee and about $5,000 to fund its startup. The initiative, spearheaded by Supervisor Patrick Little, is seen as a way to improve communications in the township. Little said he envisioned a quarterly publication with articles on township history and photos submitted by members of the community. The township plans to sells ads to cover the minimal production costs, Little said.

A motion to authorize preparation of an ordinance to increase sewer rates passed unanimously. Interim Township Manager Spence Andress said the hike, which would average about nine percent, was needed to meet higher operating expenses.

The supervisors also passed a motion to proceed with reconfiguring the intersection of Sharp and Sheehan Roads and Rt. 41, albeit grudgingly. Supervisor Randy Geouque repeated a question that surfaced periodically during the meeting: “So how are we going to pay for this?” Andress said other budgeted items would likely have to be decreased or eliminated to absorb the expected $225,000 cost. Even though the intersection will be redone when a proposed development occurs, that outcome could be years away, and the supervisors said the fact that the intersection has seen multiple, serious accidents influenced their decision.

Despite the fact that some township events, such as the Easter Egg Hunt, have fallen prey to budget constraints, the supervisors agreed that the township’s 300th birthday would be celebrated, likely in September or October. “I don’t seen how we can not celebrate the 300th anniversary,” Geouque said.

A motion to authorize the formation of an “Airport Lands Development Exploratory Committee” was tabled to give the supervisors time to consult with Jon Martin, the airport manager, and to think about who should serve on the committee. Former supervisor Bob Norris said he supported the idea if the sentiment of the board had changed so that development was an option. He said at one point the township hoped to recoup the approximate $1 million the airport cost by selling off some of the adjacent land; however, the supervisors opposed any development.

“It’s clear that we don’t want bad development, whatever that might be,” said Little, echoing other colleagues’ suggestions that all options should be explored.

Supervisor Stephen Allaband said he would prefer not to see the area overdeveloped. “It’s about appropriate use,” he suggested, pointing out that the township bought 175 acres for $978,000, making it “a good purchase” if one considers today’s real-estate values.

Providing an update on Artesian Water Company’s plan to construct a pump house on an easement it has near Broad Run and Newark Roads to access the Cockeysville Aquifer, Vincent M. Pompo, the township solicitor, said he has still received no response to a letter advising the company that the proposal violates New Garden ordinances.

Pompo said State Sen. Andy Dinniman wrote a letter March 5 to the state Department of Environmental Protection’s regional director expressing his displeasure that DEP gave the company approval to conduct preliminary tests, contending that drinking water should remain in Pennsylvania. Artesian wants to extract 200 gallons of water per minute from the well and export it to Delaware.

Earlier in the meeting, Jane Waggoner displayed one of the 100 lawn signs that proclaim “Stop Artesian: The People’s Water is NOT for sale.” She said that 80 signs are still available and that interested residents should contact her through the township office.

In January, Anthony Albence, a member of the board of directors for St. Anthony in the Hills, asked about the possibility of the church’s hosting concerts to generate revenue, an inquiry that has continued to generate discussion – and concern – about a special events ordinance.

A draft of the ordinance was described by the supervisors as too broad and expensive, since it would have required permits for athletic and political events and bond fees that some viewed as prohibitive. “Don’t fee them out of trying to do something positive for the community,” urged Norris.

The supervisors agreed to give Pompo input before the next meeting so that the draft could be tweaked and revisited.

Albence, who attended Monday night’s meeting, repeatedly said that contrary to rumors, no concerts have been planned, and the church is waiting to see what regulations the township imposes.

Supervisors’ Chair Betty Gordon thanked the approximate 30 residents in attendance for coming, reminding them of numerous vacancies on boards and committees, including a sewer authority member, volunteer coordinator, auditor, and zoning hearing board alternate.

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