Once a month the various committees of West Chester’s Borough Council meet to discuss a whole variety of issues. The topics range from how we should spend our money (approved – $19,000 for a new sewer camera tractor) to who can have a handicapped parking space (yes to 610 S. High St.) to just about everything in between. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to these meetings, they are often informative and (sometimes) entertaining (in that Starr’s Hollow “I can’t believe this is how government runs” sort of way.)
Here’s a list of random things I learned this week:
- It’s back to the drawing board on West Chester’s voting ward maps. For about a year now, West Chester has been trying to update its voting wards to bring them in compliance with new census data. This week we learned that PA courts denied the Borough’s new Voting Ward boundaries. The new ward boundaries don’t coincide with Municipal District Justice boundaries meaning residents within the proposed wards would vote in different judicial elections. That is something not allowed by the state. Borough Council will now explore new options including leaving them as is. Either way, nothing will change before next year’s primary.
- The West Chester Parking Department spent last week repairing jammed parking meters. Apparently, those quarters are causing quite a few issues. Also, did you know, there’s a link on the West Chester website where you can notify Parking Services of a broken meter – and dispute a ticket?
- West Chester offers a “business” parking permit that allows you to park anywhere in the Borough for $50/year. You just need a business card and a reasonable explanation for why you may have regular business in the Borough. It was created for those with meandering business needs – say a plumber or home health worker – but in a Borough with limited parking it is ripe for abuse. Recently, one company pulled nine permits for nine different cars using a single business address. The policy is now under review.
- Public Works assisted in the cleanup of “illicit discharges” into the Borough’s storm sewer system. Did anyone hear anything about this? Last week, the Borough discovered a “relatively small, ongoing sewage discharge” into the storm sewer system near the intersection of W. Washington and Hannum Avenue. (FYI – this diagram illustrates the difference between “storm sewer” and “sanitary sewer.” I found it helpful.) Fortunately, it seems to be greywater, say from a washing machine or bath. “We have no evidence this is bathroom waste,” Public Works Director Don Edwards told Council. Well, that’s reassuring. Unfortunately, they have not yet identified the source of the leak. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish and Wildlife Service have been notified.
- The Story Walk is back on at Hoopes Park. After losing out on the first grant they were seeking, the West Chester Public Library got a grant from the Chester County Health Department to construct the picture-lined walk. For their first story, they are proposing Senorita Mariposa by Ben Gundersheimer, a bilingual story that describes the Monarch butterfly’s journey from Canada to Mexico. The walk will hopefully be ready by fall.
- Community gardens are not allowed in residential areas of the Borough. Reverend Dayna Spence wanted to install a Community Garden in a vacant lot on S. Poplar Street but according to the West Chester Zoning Code, the practice is considered “agriculture” and banned. This week West Chester Green Team member Nathaniel Smith lobbied for a change in definition. “It seems me to be an easy tweak,” he said. Community gardens are already allowed on private property.
- Legal fees to fight WCU’s challenge to the Stream Protection fee are coming out of the Stream Protection fee. I guess you have to spend money to make money. Appeal arguments are due July 13.
- Darlington Ridge properties in East Bradford have not paid the Borough for sewage for two years. The cost of that oversight is $96,000. A bill has now been sent to Aqua. (This error shouldn’t affect residents in the development as the Borough bills Aqua directly for its services.)
- There’s a new donut shop coming to 22 N. Darlington St. The shop will be called Rose’s Little Donuts – and their shop sign will be teal and coral on an off-white background.
- Volunteer firefighters and EMTs who own a house in the Borough should receive significant relief on their real estate taxes. How much exactly will be worked out at next week’s Borough Council Meeting but an amount of $1000 was proposed by the committee. Originally, the firefighters were also seeking an earned income tax credit, but the logistics proved too complicated. It is believed 16 individuals will qualify if approved.
Published, June 16, 2023
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