Tuesday, October 03, 2023


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News Article
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Marlborough’s Budget Holds the Line on Taxes
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent

            Last week's Marlborough Board of Supervisors meeting was dominated by two topics, the 2023 budget and the continuing effort of John Haines IV to build a museum/welcome center on his Geryville Pike property.

            The 2023 Marlborough Township budget will not require a tax increase thanks in large part to $625,000 that will carry over into the 2023 budget.

           Due to the boom in the housing market and the real estate transfer tax, taxes came in $68,000 over projection. Building permits resulted in a gain of $25,000 in 2022. Both contributed to $2,213,304 in "total revenue available for appropriation."

           The largest projected 2023 expenses for the township are the police department ($581,617) and payroll withholdings and benefits ($468,570).

            "No real major changes are being included in the 2023 revenues other than [potential] grants," said Township Manager Secretary/Treasurer Marybeth Cody. "All expense items have been increased due to the rise in inflation rates."

           Next year's budget is projected to carry a surplus of around $163,000 into 2024. That number could increase to over $250,000 if American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds are included.

           Projected use of ARP funds in 2023 include upgraded security for township buildings, parking lot repairs, speed signs, a new telephone system and the repair of the roof on the public work garage.

            Several roads in need of repair will be "addressed" using the Liquid Fuels Fund, a program run by the state to support local municipalities in maintaining their roads.

            Haines' representatives were on hand asking for preliminary/final land development approval for the plan to turn Haines' property into a museum/welcome center. But before the board discussed several requested waivers, a few of Haines' neighbors expressed their concerns about the ramifications of a political rally, featuring Dr. Mehmet Oz, held on the property on Nov. 7.

           The residents cited traffic gridlock and other safety concerns during the event for the failed Republican U.S. Senate candidate – estimated to have attracted more than a thousand people – and what that portends for future events on the property.

            A neighbor, who asked for anonymity, claimed that the evidence shows "many violations" of a township ordinance, including violation of the attendance maximum stipulated for events and traffic volume that exceeded ordinance guidelines.

            "I'm a taxpayer, and I'm here to tell you that the event traffic on Monday, Nov. 7th, not only impacted and disrupted the life of an existing neighbor, but it endangered my family and everyone that lives on East Campbell Road."

            Another resident, Michelin Marshall, said, "If I had tried to get out of my driveway it would have been impossible."

            Marshall pointed out that traffic will be using two problematic intersections, Sumneytown Pike at the Sumneytown Hotel and Hendricks Road and Geryville Pike, as it exits the events on the Haines property.

            Haines' attorney, Joseph LaFlamme, told the board that the residents' objections were moot because issues about permits and traffic studies have already been discussed and acted on. The attorney reminded the board, several times, that the discussion at this meeting was solely about land development approval.

            Solicitor Zachary Sivertsen and LaFlamme disagreed about whether the township could ask for a traffic impact study as a requirement for land development approval. LaFlamme claimed that the development plan addresses traffic issues through parking lot development and new access points.

             "It's kind of late in the game to be requiring the traffic impact study," Sivertsen said later in the meeting,

            LaFlamme also claimed that the Oz event was "consented to by the township." Siverstsen disputed the contention that there was a permit request made to township administration.

            While township police and fire police were on hand at the event, Supervisor Brian Doremus questioned how that came about since no request came to him. LaFlamme said Haines is willing to cover the township's expenditures for the police and fire police who worked the Nov. 7 event.

            The residents received no definitive answer about how to hold Haines accountable in the future, but township engineer Chad Camburn pointed out that each event on the property will need a permit and those permit conditions will evolve in thoroughness over time. Residents could have input in that process.

            Once the residents had their say, five of the six Haines waiver requests met with the unanimous approval of supervisors Billy Hurst, Bill Jacobs and Brian Doremus.

            For the sixth, Doremus was the only one of the three who balked at the waiver of sidewalks, curbs, and storm sewers.

            Doremus was at least partially satisfied that Haines did agree to immediately build an eight-foot wide macadam trail as part of the project.

            Approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is still required for the onsite sewer plant that is part of the Haines plan. After the water is cleaned and disinfected, it will be discharged into a stream on the property.

            Sivertsen will prepare a resolution to grant preliminary/final approval in time for the board to act on it at the December meeting.

            Cody reported to the board that, with the merger of Harleysville Area EMS and Trappe Ambulance, the newly formed Freedom Valley Medical Rescue is asking for an increase in the amount of money that Marlborough allocates annually to rescue services. The new organization will do a presentation to the supervisors in February.






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