SANATOGA PA – The first thing Pottsgrove School District board member John Rossi did Monday night (Aug. 4, 2014) was clear the air. The next thing was what he didn’t do: hold back.
Pottsgrove school directors John Rossi, right, and Ted Coffelt, in a file photo from the school board’s June 17 (2014) meeting
Rossi recognized news reporters were in the audience during a Lower Pottsgrove meeting about land rezoning, which will eventually allow a 44-acre commercial and residential development called Sanatoga Green to proceed. So as he stood and introduced himself to the township Board of Commissioners, he also directly addressed the media.
“I’m speaking for myself, and not for any board or group of which I’m a member,” Rossi proclaimed, and added, “That’s for the press.”
Soon after he suggested that, as Sanatoga Green and similar projects are planned and reviewed, township officials should be consulting with other agencies or organizations that will be called upon to provide services to future business owners or residents.
“You need to seriously talk with your police department, with the fire departments, with the school district” about what might be anticipated or needed from them, Rossi told commissioners.
Sanatoga Green, for example, over time could add about 400 residential units to the township housing base. Although its plans indicate many will be rental apartments whose occupants are professional singles or couples without children, others are expected to be sold as privately owned three-story town homes. Some families in both may rely on Pottsgrove or other schools for education.
“That could mean more schools, or larger schools,” Rossi said, “and guess who has to pay for that?,” he asked rhetorically. “Everyone sitting right here,” he answered, as his eyes swiveled to take in the crowded conference room at the municipal building on Buchert Road.
Having earlier heard residents of Evergreen Road – whose homes were affected by commissioners’ approval of the zoning changes – complain about heavy traffic conditions there and on adjacent highways, Rossi also offered thoughts to address it.
“The infrastructure’s not set up to handle the traffic,” he said. “It’s going to take millions to make improvements. The developers should pay for them. The developers want to come in, fine, but put the costs back on the developers.”
The themes on which Rossi touched are familiar to commissioners. They’ve heard them before from credentialed professionals who did not speak for themselves alone.
- A report published in late 2012 for the Pottstown Metropolitan Regional Planning Commission, of which Lower Pottsgrove is a part, cautioned the township against attracting developments that would require services like police patrols and highway maintenance more costly than the job and tax revenues such projects would yield.
- In a 2-1 vote during mid-2013, the township Planning Commission recommended commissioners draw up a schedule of impact fees to ensure developers pay for certain types of infrastructure improvements. Surrounding municipalities, like neighboring Limerick, already charge such fees. A panel was installed last year by the board to study the proposal; its report is yet to be issued.
Rossi was the only commenter Monday to publicly voice such ‘bigger picture’ issues.
As he finished his statement, Rossi simply thanked commissioners for their time. The board thanked Rossi for his. And he sat down.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 4 meeting):