Springfield returns to a new normal in July with livestreamed in-person Board meetings

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 6/17/21

Springfield Township will resume in-person meetings for all Board of Commissioner and advisory commission meetings beginning July 1, 2021.  But things are not going back to the old “normal.” 

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Springfield returns to a new normal in July with livestreamed in-person Board meetings

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At the Board of Commissioners business meeting on June 9, Board President Baird Standish announced that Springfield Township will resume in-person meetings for all Board of Commissioner and advisory commission meetings beginning July 1, 2021.  But things are not going back to the old “normal.”  According to Standish, the community was very positive about the easily accessible Board meetings via Zoom during the pandemic.  As a result, Standish said that “the Board of Commissioners will livestream their workshop and business meetings so that residents can continue to view the actions of the Board in real time.”  Since livestream viewers will not be able to ask questions of the Board in real time, Township residents should continue to monitor the Township website for updated agendas ahead of time so that they communicate their concerns or questions to Commissioner of their Ward before the meeting.

Township Engineer reports on stormwater management effort on local golf courses

Tim Woodrow, Township Engineer, reported at the Board’s Workshop meeting on June 7 that he has been working with both Sandy Run and the Flourtown Country Clubs to deal with storm

water management on their golf courses.  With climate change, the area has experienced more serious storms than in the past that are dumping a lot of water onto the ground, sometimes overwhelming the existing storm water drainage systems.  Woodrow has now met with the owners at Sandy Run to discuss the Township’s recommendations to alleviate stormwater runoff to houses on Burton Road abutting the golf course property.  Sandy Run is willing to install a new detention basin (three times bigger capacity than what is there now), make water quality improvements with plantings, and raise the berm on the course to divert the overflow of water there.  The Township will manage the overflow from the golf course to the street and into the sewer system.

The Flourtown Country Club, which is Township property, already has rain gardens and a large water detention basin so the focus there is with capturing water from impervious surfaces like pavement that do not absorb water.  They are looking at the water from the parking lot that ends up flooding Bysher fields.  Plans are to reroute the water to the pond and to establish more rain gardens and dense grass plantings.

The Township announces a new name for its “Ready for 100” Campaign

Springfield Township was the first municipality in Montgomery County to sign on to the Sierra Club’s national Ready for 100 campaign in 2019.  Joy Bergey, Vice -Chair of the Environmental Advisory Commission ,and Board Commissioner Peter Wilson, who is the EAC’s liaison, reported on the EAC’s progress in developing a plan to reduce greenhouse gases and energy attributable  to the Township campus and its operations.  Bergey announced that the “Ready for 100” campaign will now be known as “Renewable Springfield” at the Board’s workshop meeting. The new name is more transparent and understandable to the public. 

Bergey said that, at first, she found the task of developing a municipal clean energy plan “overwhelming,” but after she and Commissioner Wilson completed a comprehensive 9-month course on Community Energy Strategic Planning for Municipalities, “I had a really good grasp of all the areas that should be tackled by a municipality, which led me to organize our effort into three working groups focusing on municipal facilities, municipal transportation, and communication.”  Bergey also reported to the Board that Springfield Township has become the “go to” municipality for consultations with other local governments on “how to get things done” on clean energy planning and implementation.

Bergey reported that 60% of the greenhouse gases attributed to the Township come from transportation pollution (gas-powered police cars, trash trucks).  The Township is committed to moving entirely to electric vehicles by 2050.  As of June 8, Township police now own a pursuit-rated hybrid Ford Police Interceptor SUV, its first-ever.  The Township plans to gradually replace gas-powered police vehicles with hybrids for now until the cost of electric vehicles comes down. The Township stands to see an estimated savings of $16,000/year and reduction of 200,000 pounds of greenhouse gas pollution/emissions per year.  The Township will have a summer energy audit in 2022.

Commissioners adopt new use & occupancy and zoning relief provisions to Ordinance 970.

After a public hearing on June 9, the Board of Commissioners adopted two changes to Ordinance 970.  Going forward, the Ordinance sets a deadline of 45 days to render a decision on a use & occupancy permit.  If no decision is made within 45 days, the permit will be deemed approved.  As for zoning relief, the new Ordinance now includes an extension of zoning relief provision.  It establishes a one-year deadline that can be tolled on certain specified conditions such as, the pendency of an appeal for zoning relief, the diligent pursuit of land development, or during any period for which the Commonwealth has declared a state of emergency for more than thirty days.  The zoning relief provision is prospective only.

Township residents can view the Board’s Workshop and Business Meetings via zoom livestream.  Obtain audio recording of past Board Workshop meetings by contacting Township Manager, Michael Taylor at mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org.  Access all Board Business Meeting Agendas, Minutes and recordings here: https://www.springfieldmontco.org/government/meeting-agendas-minutes/.

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