Resident John Jacobs was on hand to personally request another continuance of his subdivision plan, which has been in the works since the 1980s. Jacobs was granted final approval in the early 1990s for the plan, which creates a new development behind the Elverson National Bank property. Before he could act on it, a pipeline leak was discovered on the lot, and he has been tied up in legal wrangling ever since. The plan was never officially recorded because the financial arrangements were not established before the problem began.
Jacobs took the floor, distributing a report on groundwater on the land, "... to show it is still polluted, though slightly better than it was before.' An environmental consultant has told him that the property's stable track record will now be an asset in selling the land. He also noted that it sometimes takes 15-20 years before levels get low enough to make the land useable, but the test will help a potential buyer avoid lawsuits. Jacobs stated, "I'm requesting another year to get rid of this thing... and I will get rid of it!' He said he finally has a real estate agent willing to help sell it, and he thinks it will now be possible to find a buyer.
The borough's solicitor, David Malman, was present to help council address the request. He suggested that the problem is with a state law which now protects anyone who receives subdivision approval from changes in borough ordinances for a period of five years. If the development is not completed in those five years, the developer may then be subjected to the new regulations. Since Elverson has recently changed their ordinances, Malman was unsure of the impact of this ruling on Jacobs. Malman concluded that a municipality can extend the approval if they choose, "if there is an appropriate reason, and it is in the best interests of the community.' They are, however, not required to do so. "Even if he's prevented from following through on the development because of someone else... that doesn't automatically extend the approval.'
Malman then stated this would be a good time for the borough to negotiate with the developer, exchanging their approval for any concessions they might feel would be in the borough's best interests. "You have Mr. Jacobs over the proverbial barrel if you want to,' he explained. Council discussed the request, but were unsure about how to proceed. In response to a question from Councilman Merle Stoltzfus about granting a shorter extension to see if changes are needed, Malman explained further. "An extension doesn't have to be granted prior to the old one expiring,' nor must it be for a specific period of time,' he said.
Jacobs appeared somewhat distressed at this proposal, stating that an approval plan makes a big difference in the marketability of a parcel. Since market conditions are good now, and he would like to proceed as quickly as possible, anything short of the year-long approval might make it impossible to sell. "If I don't have an approved plan, frankly I don't know what I'm going to do with it,' he concluded.
Stoltzfus then suggested that a potential buyer might like the idea of coming to the table with the borough and working out differences now, before a sale is completed, and he would have to abide by the agreement made by Jacobs. "Cooperation is the best scenario,' Stoltzfus said.
In response to a question from Council President Tom Hess, it was determined that no one knew where the borough's copy of the final plan was located. Stoltzfus moved for a three-month extension of the approval, giving council time to locate the original plan and have the Planning Commission and borough engineers review it. Council agreed.
In other business, council agreed not to simply re-sign an agreement with Services Electric Cablevision for use of borough lines. On the advice of the solicitor, they agreed to work up a new and updated franchise agreement that would be more in the best interest of the borough.
Eagle Scout candidate Peter Mountz appeared before council to discuss his project at the Elverson freight station. As part of the original proposal, Mountz had planned to create a portable ramp and platform. Since that time, he had some questions about the size and extent of the platform, and was asking for clarification. He also requested some financial assistance, as "this is a lot bigger project that I originally proposed,' he pointed out.
Council agreed that the revised plan would probably cost $2,000-$3,000, while Mountz felt he would only raise $500 on his own. Stoltzfus noted that the platform would be used for the borough's recycling program, and council should probably help finance the changes. Council agree, since money had previously been set aside to upgrade the station. They directed Mountz to get specific prices for materials and return next month with a more exact estimate of costs.
Councilman Fred McMullen reported that two more incidents of vandalism occurred at Livingood Park last month. On a brighter note, he stated that the final paving, grading and seeding of the park is completed, and "it looks good.' The New Holland Band will be on hand Aug. 4 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. for a concert at the park. The public is invited.
Council agreed to purchase portable roller hockey nets for the basketball courts. Aug. 9 is the date for the historical tour of the borough. Mayor Homer Minnich and Borough Manager Jack McEwen attended a meeting for local municipalities recently, and were told Elverson will be receiving $500 from Blue Ball Bank for unclaimed property.