Public comments came fast and furious at last week’s Springfield Township supervisors meeting.
Residents took board members to task as they discussed short-term rental and shooting regulations, and an electric vehicle charging station, one of several budget requests put forth by the administration.
Township Manager Mike Brown said the car charging station would cost the township about $5,000, with the remainder paid for by a Department of Environmental Protection grant. Brown said the board needed to act if interested as the grant would expire in a year.
Supervisor Karen Bedics nodded her approval and noted that “it would be very progressive for our township.”
But former Police Chief Robert Bell balked at the cost to taxpayers, and said such a facility could make the township potentially liable for any injuries or deaths.
Supervisors next returned to the thorny issue of short-term rentals. A proposed ordinance would require anyone running such a business in the township to obtain a license, and that the rental be his or her primary residence.
Three supervisors – James Nilsen, Tony Matzura and Bedics – indicated they would favor regulation. Supervisor Robert Zisko disagreed. “I don’t think this should be regulated at all. We don’t regulate our regular rentals.”
Supervisors did agree on one thing: increasing the number of rental days allowed from 60 to 365. The planning commission had recommended the 60-day limit to keep the properties as an accessory use, subject to taxes, and to prevent the widespread purchase of properties to use as rentals.
Resident Pauline Bell questioned the need for an ordinance. “We don’t have the mountains or the seashore here. We’re creating more government. Why do we need bigger government?”
Supervisor Bedics replied regulations were warranted because of the documented problems caused by such rentals, and the township’s proximity to populated areas. Robert Bell accused the township of picking on people trying to rent their own properties and said any concerns about disorderly conduct were already addressed in state laws. “I think we have enough laws.”
Citing the time, the board decided to table discussion on proposed target shooting regulations, but resident Dan Walsh fired back, saying if it was on the agenda, it should be up for discussion. Walsh angrily accused supervisors of trying to limit his Second Amendment rights.
Supervisor Chairman Dave Long said that was not the board’s intent, and the issue was how to regulate target ranges and issues that arose when multiple people used private property for an accessory use like shooting.
“We don’t want gun restrictions,” Long insisted.
“I doubt that,” Walsh replied testily.
In other business, supervisors unanimously gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture permission to spray trees of heaven on township properties, which include the municipal building, Peppermint Park, and the restored limekiln on Woodbyne Road. The Asian import is a particular favorite of another, more recent, Asian import, the spotted lanternfly, which has overwhelmed Springfield and surrounding municipalities this summer.