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A Local Government Week Op-Ed – April 2021
Say Thanks to Your Township Supervisors!
by David M. Sanko
Executive Director, Pa. State Association of Township Supervisors
You may read about them in the newspaper or see them along local roads, plowing snow in the winter or patching potholes in the spring.
They’re your township supervisors and staff, and while you may not know them personally, these public servants show up each and every day with one goal in mind: to build a better community for you, your family, and your neighbors.
As Pennsylvania celebrates Local Government Week, April 12-16, this is the perfect opportunity for you to better understand the critical role your township and its officials play in the commonwealth’s governing system.
Established to be a direct reflection and representation of the people who live there, townships are places where residents — when they choose to — have a voice in what happens, where every expenditure is scrutinized, and where services provided don’t exceed what the community needs or can afford.
In other words, townships are full-service, grassroots-driven communities overseen by your neighbors, who are dedicated to meeting your needs.
A system that makes sense
Since its inception, Pennsylvania has had three levels of government: state, county, and local. This structure, which the Founding Fathers based on a division of labor, made sense then and makes even more sense now.
In fact, the commonwealth’s governing system is a lot like a telescope. Open it wide and you’ll see the state’s big-picture view. Narrow the focus a bit and you’ve got the county’s regional perspective. Narrow the focus even more and you’ll see what townships see: the local side of things.
And each of these levels of government has distinct duties and priorities. In the early days, for instance, township supervisors primarily oversaw the maintenance of local roads. And while this continues to be one of their top priorities, township supervisors today have many more responsibilities.
Jacks of all trades, township supervisors in the 21st century are hands-on local leaders who must be well-schooled in a wide range of complex issues, such as land use management, budgeting, transportation planning, and public safety concerns.
And because they live and may even work in the communities they represent, township supervisors are on call around the clock. In fact, it’s not unusual for supervisors to field phone calls from residents during dinner and to plow roads at night and into the early hours of the morning.
Just imagine, though, what it would be like if your township didn’t exist and your community was managed by a larger, centralized government.
Under this scenario, which has been proposed in the past, you would not be able to turn to a neighbor for help. Instead, you would have to approach a more distant group of elected leaders — some of whom may be familiar with your community; most of whom may not — and compete against a much larger pool of individuals to get your voice heard and needs met.
Local democracy, as you know it, would be lost and replaced with a larger, more expensive, and more sluggish way of governing.
So as we celebrate Local Government Week, here’s something to keep in mind: Township government isn’t just another layer of government; it’s the critical layer, the foundation. It’s the one that represents you and your family, lives within its budget, and provides the services you’ve asked for — nothing more and nothing less.
And the next time you’re out and about, take a good look around your township and realize that all the good things you see — the parks, the well-maintained roads, and the safe environment to raise a family — are possible because your local leaders, your neighbors, had a vision about providing a high quality of life and turned it into a reality for you.
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About the author: David M. Sanko is the executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. With a broad background in local and state government, Sanko oversees an organization that is the primary advocate for the commonwealth’s 1,454townships of the second class, which are home to 5.5 million Pennsylvanians and cover 95 percent of the commonwealth’s land mass.
With the coming ice storm forecasted for East Nantmeal, you are requested to not drive on township roads unless absolutely necessary. Please stay off the roads between 5:30 PM this evening and 6:00 AM Tuesday.
The Chester County Planning Commission, working in conjunction with the Chester County Environmental and Energy Advisory Board, will be presenting a draft of the county’s updated Climate Action Plan during a public Zoom meeting on Thursday, March 4.
The updated Climate Action Plan will provide a current greenhouse gas emissions inventory, as well as action plans for reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency throughout the county.
The Climate Action Plan establishes a blueprint for how the county, municipalities, businesses and other stakeholders can reduce their carbon footprint. Work on the plan began in the fall of 2019 and updates and expands on the county’s original 2010 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Report.
Meeting attendees will be presented with an overview of the plan and proposed actions for addressing climate change, followed by a question and answer session and opportunities for public comment.
We invite you to join us for this meeting to discuss the draft plan and provide your feedback! We also invite you to share this meeting information with others. Attached is a press release providing more information about the meeting, as well as a partner toolkit and graphic with suggested language for sharing.
To register for the meeting, visit https://zoom.us/webinar/register/3816122886144/WN_eudHFuFgS4G1bMpK2G2OAg.
To learn more and view a draft of the plan, visit https://news.chescoplanning.org/draft-climate-action-plan-2021/.
Beaver Creek Preserve, Inc. owns a primarily undeveloped property located at 11 Potts Schools Road.
The Township was made aware on August 2020 that fill dirt was being transported to and dumped on the property. As a result, the Township Engineer contacted the owner’s representatives, visited the property, and issued a Stop Work Order. The Township Engineer was advised that the owner was constructing a berm to be used in connection with a gun range.
The Township Engineer notified the owner that a Township Stormwater Management, Erosion and Sediment Control and Grading Permit was required for the work being done on the Property. The owner filed the application for the Permit on August 24, 2020, and the Permit was subsequently issued. This Permit did not grant approval for any use of the property. The permit only authorized the placement of the fill dirt and the grading.
The Township has not been advised directly by the owner regarding the intended use of the Property. As indicated above, the Township Engineer was told that the owner is constructing a berm for a gun range. The Township is aware that the property was used in the past by a gun club. Based on mail received from residents of Potts School Road, the Township is also aware of unsubstantiated statements that the owner intends to permit Chester County law enforcement agencies to use the property for training.
Based on this information, the Township has advised the owner’s representatives that any nonconforming use of the property as a gun club has been abandoned; and that a gun range and governmental uses are not permitted on the property by the East Nantmeal Township Zoning Ordinance.
The Township has also advised the applicant that public recreational uses, as defined by the Zoning Ordinance, are permitted by special exception in the Class II Agricultural Preservation Zoning District where the property is located. To the extent that any proposed uses may be public recreational uses, an application to and approval by the Township Zoning Hearing Board would be required. To date, no application has been filed with the Township Zoning Hearing Board. If an application is filed, a hearing must be conducted; notice of the hearing would be published in the Daily Local News, posted on the property, and sent to nearby property owners.
The Township cannot make any determination about recreational use of the property since we have not been advised in detail of the intended uses. We have requested that the owner describe in writing in detail the intended uses of the property. The Township has been advised that the property is used for Boy Scout meetings, camping and activities. No further information has been provided by the owner.
The Board of Supervisors has directed the Township Engineer and Township Solicitor to enforce the Township ordinances applicable to the property. We are not aware of any illegal activity at the property since our communications with the owner’s representative in August. However, please understand that the owner has certain property rights which it is entitled to as long as there is compliance with applicable law.
East Nantmeal Township is seeking experienced applicants for the position of Secretary/Treasurer. East Nantmeal is a rural community in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania with a population of approximately 1,800. The position reports directly to the Board of Supervisors and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Township and performance of all functions of both Township Secretary and Treasurer. Job descriptions are available on the Township website under Documents – eastnantmeal.org. Salary commensurate with experience and qualifications. Generous benefits package. Send letter of interest, resume and salary history to email@example.com by November 9, 2020. EOE.
Scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Ordinance Review Committee
Time: Oct 6, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 799 0049 9407
Important 2020 General Election Dates/Deadlines
- October 19th – Last day to register to vote for the 2020 General Election. Check your registration here. You can find more information and register online here.
- October 27th – Last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot. Check the status of your mail-in or absentee ballot here.
- November 3rd – Election Day (polls open 7am – 8pm)
- November 6th – Last day for County Boards of Elections to receive mail-in and civilian absentee ballots.
- As decided by the PA Supreme Court on September 17th, 2020.
- November 10th – Last day for County Boards of Elections to receive military and overseas ballots postmarked before November 3rd.
Ways to Vote this Election
- Early In-Person Voting
- Vote by mail/absentee
- Vote In-Person on Election Day
What is Early, In-Person Voting?
- Go to your Board of Elections Office and request to vote early. You will be given a mail-in ballot that you may fill out privately. After filling out the ballot and properly sealing it in the security envelope, you will hand it back to the officials.
- You may also bring your mail-in ballot to the Board of Elections Office to turn in.
- Early, In-Person Voting is not yet available, but will be once ballots are printed mid-September-early October. It will end at 5pm on October 27th.
- Before you go: Call ahead to make sure ballots are printed and ready and check the hours for your Board of Elections Office.
- Available at your County’s Board of Elections Office:
- Chester County: 601 Westtown Rd., Suite 150, West Chester, PA 19380; (610) 344-6410
How to Vote By Mail
- Apply for a mail-in ballot online, by mail, or in-person.
- Once you are approved, your County Board of Elections will mail you your mail-in ballot.
- Turn in your ballot by mail or by handing it in at your County’s Board of Elections. It must be received on or before 5pm on November 6th.
How to Vote In-Person
- Check your registration status. You must be registered by October 19th to vote in this election.
- Check your polling location here.
- Get prepared to vote. Wear a mask, bring your own pen, and bring an ID if it’s your first time voting at your polling location (note: if the physical location of your polling place has changed, but your home address has not, you do not need an ID).
- Go to your polling location! Polls are open from 7am to 8pm. All voters in line by 8pm can vote in the election.
Rep. Houlahan Telephone Town Hall Series, “Voting Safely in 2020”
- Wednesday, 9/30 at 3:30pm
- Tuesday, 10/6 at 3:30pm
- Wednesday, 10/14 at 3:15pm
- Thursday, 10/22 at 4:00pm
- Monday 10/26 at 5:00pm
To join any of these town halls, please dial 855-731-4616.
Saturday, October 10, 2020 at the Government Services Building, 601 Westtown Road in West Chester
PRE-REGISTRATION IS NOW REQUIRED FOR ALL EVENTS AS PER DEP DURING THE PUBLIC HEALTH RESTRICTIONS IN THE “GREEN PHASE.”
Everyone needs to secure a time slot THROUGH REGISTRATION.
To inform the public of how to register for an appointment at this event,
- please post the attached flyer that includes the registration link, OR
- direct them to our website page: https://www.chestercountyswa.org/121/Upcoming-Household-Hazardous-Waste-Event
PRE-REGISTRATION IS NOW REQUIRED FOR ALL EVENTS AS PER DEP DURING THE PUBLIC HEALTH RESTRICTIONS IN THE “GREEN PHASE”