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Marlborough Informed on Invasive Plants Threatening Skymount
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

Supervisors also hear about a proposal for a museum


            At the Marlborough Board of Supervisors meeting on Feb. 12, Burt Shive, of the Parks and Recreation advisory board, delivered a startling report about runaway vegetation threatening to choke the life out of Lake Skymount.

            Shive showed pictures of the lake from the last two years, illustrating the spread of invasive plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil and hydrilla.

            "They ultimately will take over the lake if we don't do something about it," Shive warned.

            "And they can't be removed manually."

            Watermilfoil and hydrilla both spread through fragmentation, meaning the plants cannot be just pulled up. "They have to be treated with herbicides," said Shive.

            Even a small fragment breaking free, or traveling on a boat or kayak, can spread the plant.

            "A little speck of it will spawn into another water body," said Shive.

            Shive has been in contact with Perkiomen Watershed and Princeton Hydro, a "premier" lake management business. They have advised Marlborough that eradicating the weeds entirely is a five-to-seven-year project.

            The first "big shot" of herbicide would cost $15,000, followed by what Shive described as a "maintenance program."

            "I don't know that the budget this year can support that treatment," said Supervisor Brian Doremus.

            Shive responded that Princeton Hydro can try and work within the township's budget but cannot guarantee the same level of effectiveness $15,000 would buy.

            Supervisor Chair Billy Hurst suggested checking into grants.

            Supervisor Bill Jacobs expressed concerns about the use of chemicals in the lake, but Shive indicated that toxicity does not rise to a level that would preclude fishing or boating.

            "There are no hazards other than to the invasives the chemical is targeting," Shive said.

            Shive will continue to look into the issue while warnings about the invasive plants will be posted on the township website and added to the permitting requests for the lake.

            In better waterway news, the board gave tentative approval to a proposal to partner with the Perkiomen Watershed Conservancy in seeking a Montgomery County grant to place a boat ramp and parking area on Marlborough's property along the Perkiomen Creek near the intersection of Gravel Pike and Upper Ridge Road.

            The agreement is contingent upon insurance and flood plain issues meeting specifications requested by the supervisors. It is now up to the Conservancy to make those changes and to secure grant money.

            The board heard from representatives from the H&K Group regarding a change of zoning classification for three properties along Geryville Pike and East Campbell Road involving approximately 23 acres.

            John Haines IV, the Co-Chairman of H&K, is asking Marlborough for a zoning modification to his properties in order to establish a non-profit museum and organization and host events and conferences on the properties.

           While township officials lauded the proposal and praised Haines for his contributions to the community, the bureaucratic complexities were spelled out by the consultants and lawyers in attendance.

            Chad Camburn, of Bursich Associates, the township engineers, listed several items of concern, including traffic issues, neighborhood impact and determining if "multiple principle uses are permitted on an individual property."

            Haines, who was in attendance, thanked everyone for their efforts.

            "You know I really appreciate everything you people are trying to do for me. It's just been my dream to keep this thing going."

            The next public meeting about Haines' proposal will not be held until April 27, at the board's workshop.

            Another zoning issue concerned Green Lane Naturals, located on Route 63, near Magazine Road. Parking for the business is an issue because spaces are limited and cars back out onto 63.

            Green Lane Naturals would like to build a parking lot on its elevated property behind the business.

            But the bigger issue for the township is the fact that Green Lane Naturals is now operating as a restaurant.

            "When they first made application, they represented it as being retail health food sales, yoga studio, art studio, smoothies," noted Jeff Kerlin of Technicon Enterprises, the township's engineering consultants, "but it was never just openly declared as restaurant use in the beginning."

            Solicitor Mark Cappuccio recommended that the business be forced back into compliance with the original intent of the building before any other discussions take place, and the board agreed.

            The board also unanimously approved the amendments to the regulations for the Village Commercial District, addressing concerns from residents that had been expressed over the last few years.

            Township Manager/Secretary/Treasurer Marybeth Cody announced the resignation of Administrative Assistant Diane Clark. Cody lauded Clark for her work in the township.

            "I've said many times before, Diane is worth her weight in gold," Cody told the supervisors.

            The supervisors approved Cody's request to advertise the opening with parameters that include an increase in hours from 10-15 per week to 15-20 per week.

            The next supervisors meeting is on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m.





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