Springfield Township Monthly Meeting Update

Springfield Township July Workshop Meeting

by Betsy Wallace
Posted 7/22/21

Demolition of old Enfield Elementary School scheduled for Fall, Haws Lane Townhome Development

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Springfield Township Monthly Meeting Update

Springfield Township July Workshop Meeting

Posted

Demolition of the old Enfield Elementary School scheduled for this Fall

The Workshop meeting on July 12 was the Board of Commissioners’ first in-person workshop meeting since February of last year. The Commissioners and Township staff exchanged friendly quips about learning to wear shoes and socks and remembering to put on a decent pair of pants that still fit! Four residents attended the workshop meeting. Seven people watched the meeting via zoom. Here are some of the highlights.

Enfield Athletic Facility Development Plan

Craig Thorne, the School District’s Director of Operations, reported to the Board that the demolition of the Old Enfield School would take place this October or November after the School District hosts an open house tour of the school for the public. He also reported that the planned multi-use field on the old Enfield Elementary School site will be a full-sized field with grass.

Commissioner Mike Maxwell asked about the lack of routine off-season maintenance on some of the older athletic fields on school properties. Thorne explained that the School District maintains the fields during the school athletic season but that the off-season permit holders are responsible for maintaining the fields they play on.

When Commissioners asked about when the High School stadium field would be reopened to the public, Thorne answered that they are doing more maintenance on it in July and that there are other issues that need to be addressed before reopening, namely problems with vandalism and trash and protection of the artificial turf field, which is expensive to repair. He said that the District is committed to opening the stadium to the public but he did not know exactly when.

100% clean energy Township vehicles by 2050.

Desiree Rammon, a Township resident since 2009 and an environmental engineer, gave the Environmental Advisory Committee’s clean transportation presentation. According to Rammon, the Township’s gas and diesel vehicles (including everything from lawnmowers to police cars and trash trucks) account for about 58-61% of the municipal carbon emissions. Municipal facilities (including the library) account for about 39-42% of carbon emissions. Rammon said that complete electrification is the only way to get the Township fleet of police cars and public works vehicles down to zero emissions by 2050.

Although there is a growing market for electric vehicles, the cost to replace all Township vehicles at once would be too expensive. Rammon suggested taking a staggered approach, beginning with the gradual replacement of gas-powered police cars to hybrids beginning in 2021. She applauded the Township’s purchase of its first hybrid police car earlier this year. In 2035, the Township would start replacing the hybrid police cars and some public works vehicles with electric cars. The last vehicles to go electric will be trash trucks, starting in 2040.

Rammon emphasized that reducing all vehicle greenhouse gases in the Township would involve encouraging private electric vehicle use by Township residents. The Township could help by promoting outreach and creating policies that enable community-wide adoption of electric vehicles.

Rammon said EAC representatives are meeting with the Township’s School District about their school bus fleet the week of July 19.

380-402 Haws Lane – Townhome Development

Chris Canavan, President of WB Homes, Inc., presented two new draft plans for the Haws Lane tract. Both plans reduce the number of total townhome units on the property from 41 to 36 and both include a public walkway leading from the townhomes to school property.

The first draft spreads nine small townhome blocks (containing from 3-5 units each) evenly throughout the property, preserving green space in the front on Haws Lane and reducing the amount of open green space in the back. The second draft is the same as the plan proposed at the informal Planning Commission’s public meeting in June except that one block of 5 townhomes has been eliminated, providing for more open green space in the back.

Canavan posed two questions at the meeting. First, does the Townhome concept make sense as a viable alternative to an institution in this institutionally zoned property? Second, if the answer is yes, then what would an acceptable Townhome plan look like? Canavan said that he “is very willing to work with the neighbors on a plan once the conceptual issue is decided” and that he would get a full assessment of the trees on the property.

The Commissioners recommended having another informal Planning Commission public meeting in early September.

Two neighbors reiterated the concerns made in prior public meetings about the Townhome plan: the burden that Greenhill and Wedgewood roads would bear in absorbing overflow townhome parking (these roads are the only places where parking is allowed - most of Haws Lane on the northeast side is a no-parking zone, including in front of 380-402 Haws Lane) and the need preserve the trees on the property.

Board President Standish outlined the ways that a non-conforming use for a particularly zoned land could be approved. With crucial support of the Haws Lane neighbors and the Board of Commissioners, a landowner could apply to the Zoning Board for a variance for a non-conforming use and possibly get it. The Zoning Board’s decision is subject to appeal, however, and can be overturned. The Commissioners could amend the text of the zoning ordinance to allow for a non-conforming use, a process called a text amendment. Standish expressed his concern that a text amendment in this case could set a precedent for similarly zoned land, like the Harston Hall property. Or, the Board could approve a zoning map overlay, a land use tool that modifies a zoning code provision without actually rezoning any of the land. An overlay is often used for reasons like protecting a specific resource or encouraging development in certain areas. As with zoning, however, the Township would have to be careful to ensure that all similar properties are treated similarly.

Township residents can obtain audio recording of past Board Workshop meetings by contacting Township Manager, Michael Taylor at mtaylor@springfieldmontco.org. You can access all Board Business Meeting Agendas, Minutes and recordings on the Springfield Township website.

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