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New Development Proposed for Washington Township
Written by Mary Gibbs Kershner, Correspondent

            Berks County developer Rich Mingey approached the Washington Township Board of Supervisors on Thursday night with an informal proposal for several large tracts of land he owns in the township.  The total amount of proposed development is approximately 328 units. 

            Mingey owns two large parcels that consist of approximately 78 acres and 106 acres along Schwenkfelder and Kutztown Roads, a 14-acre site along Old Route 100, a 10-acre commercial parcel at 1606 Main Street and a one-acre residential site along Stauffer Road. 

            Mingey's Engineer, Daniel McKenna, P.E., Wilkinson and Associates, Inc., presented a preliminary drawing that proposed 258 age targeted, but not age restricted, homes on the 78 acre tract on Schwenkfelder Road. 

            Age targeted developments are designed to appeal to a more mature buyer but can be sold to younger buyers as well.  Age restricted developments typically limit buyers to a certain age group, usually 55 years and over.  Additionally, Mingey proposed approximately 16 estate lots of between 1.7 acres to 4 acres on the 108-acre parcel that borders Schwenkfelder and Kutztown Road.  A 50-acre portion that contains a restored mansion and surrounding buildings will be subdivided from the 108 acres and placed in a conservation easement. 

            Mingey proposes two twin residential dwellings on his Stauffer Road property.  The land Mingey owns along Schwenkfelder and Kutztown Roads is classified Prime Agricultural land.  He presented an analysis to the Board of Supervisors that purports to show the land does not meet the criteria for a Prime Agricultural classification. 

            Prime Agricultural soils are soils capable of producing consistently high yield and high quality crops.  Mingey informed the Board of Supervisors that of the 328 proposed units, most will be serviced by the Borough of Bally's water and sewer.  Approximately five sewer connections will use Washington Township's sewer service.

            Currently, Bally is under a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).  Bally has a problem with its wastewater.  Too much water flows into its sewer system during a rain event.  The DEP has mandated Bally repair its infiltration and inflow (I/ I) into its sewer system or face heavy fines. 

            Over the last several years Bally has done extensive repairs to its sewer system.  However, each time a manhole in the borough pops during a heavy rain event, DEP must be notified.  The borough then has 12 months to repair the problem.  There is no set time limit when DEP will remove the CAP from Bally's sewer system.  Therefore, temporarily new sewer connections are difficult to obtain.

            In other matters, Washington Township signed a one-year extension of a 20-year water agreement with Bally that enables Bally to continue to provide water to 106 properties located in Washington Township.  It is expected that in September Bally will take over Washington Township Water Authority, either through an outright purchase or a transfer to Bally. 

            Between now and September any new Washington Township property that seeks to use Bally water service will pay a higher fee than other Washington Township water users.  Last month, Mingey requested Washington Township inquire if all 106 properties that utilize Bally water would have their water fees raised if he seeks water from Bally.  Washington Township Manager Richard Sickler informed Mingey, based on the previous 20-year agreement between Bally and Washington Township, that only his property as a new user would be charged a higher rate than the rest of the Washington Township properties that use Bally water. 

            The Board of Supervisors authorized Sickler to pursue a feasibility and option analysis for the expansion of its wastewater treatment plant.  Township Solicitor Dan Becker suggested it was a good idea to get started.  Becker explained an expansion of a sewer plant is "not a short process."  

            The Board of Supervisors plan to do a full depth reclamation of a portion of Lenape Road from Anthony's Mill Road to Haight School House Road.  Additionally, the supervisors plan to do a full depth reclamation of a small section of Anthony's Mill Road at the intersection of Lenape and Anthony's Mill Road. 

            Chairman Dave Moyer explained that many township roads do not have a secure base.  Originally, they were oil and chipped.  Then, they were paved with macadam.  With weather and heavy traffic, the roads break down.  A full depth reclamation where the road is essentially rebuilt should last "at least 15 to 35 years" according to Moyer.  

            Positions on the Zoning Hearing board were filled when officials appointed Shawn Hester and Michael Ewing the posts.

            Supervisor Thomas Powanda thanked the township road crew for their excellent service during the recent storms.  Supervisor James Roma reminded citizens that Saturday, May 4 is Recycling and Spring Cleanup Day.  Chairman Dave Moyer reminded residents that the township needs volunteers for various committees.  Moyer said, "Volunteer, become part of your community."

            The Board of Supervisors held a moment of silence in remembrance of former Township Supervisor Herman Shuhler, a life-long resident and farmer in Washington Township.

            The next Washington Township Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 28 at 7 p.m.  The next Washington Township Municipal Authority meeting is scheduled on Thursday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m.





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