About 80 people showed up Tuesday night at the New Hope-Solebury High School auditorium where the Solebury supervisors sought opinions on what improvements residents wanted to see along the Route 202 corridor.
The board again reiterated that the mini-city “Solebury Square” concept plan that drew 200-plus protesting people to the August supervisors meeting is dead.
It was never voted on, was never a current plan and does not exist at this time, said Chair Mark Baum Baicker.
“We’re not proposing anything,” he added. “We (as a board) don’t have the ability to build.”
This second community meeting was geared to get views on what improvements the public wants to see along the corridor because the board knows developments along the highway are pending, he said.
“We’ve had rumblings of developments coming in for over a year,” said Supervisor Kevin Morrissey.
“We’re trying to get in front of it,” Baum Baicker said.
Supervisor Robert McEwan, however, noted that “PennDOT doesn’t have any money for Route 202 improvements.”
Baum Baicker later said that the township and PennDOT are in the process of setting up a meeting in Valley Forge to discuss the Route 202 issue.
Phil Johnson, a farmer and chair of the township’s land preservation committee, drew applause with his concern about more impervious surfaces (parking lots) and the need for preservation “so the township can’t be paved over.”
Baum Baicker praised Johnson and his committee, saying,”They work their butts off making cold calls, trying to get people to preserve their land.”
“It can take years to convince a landowner,” to put his land into a conservation agreement, Morrissey said. “I don’t know how many cups of coffee it takes (for Phil to do it).”
Baum Baicker urged people to vote for the Nov. 5 referendum asking residents to approve spending $12 million for the purchase of open space, preservation, and conservation easements.
“At the end of the year we will run out of preservation funds,” he said.
Peter Schwalm of Professional Landscape Services on Lower York Road and a 35-year Solebury resident, recalled some to the strict building regulations he endured years ago.
His comment that “developers are scared to death of Solebury” drew enthusiastic applause from the audience.
Another resident wanted to curtail “lighting” pollution at the municipal building complex saying the bright outdoor lighting is a nuisance at night.
“The cops are in there – why does it have to be so bright?” she asked, suggesting the on-site police were more than enough protection.
Baum Baicker said he would try to get an answer to her question.
Another resident wondered why the township and can’t halt development by conserving 100 percent of its land.
Aside from being obligated to have various zones for development, the supervisors noted, there is a limit to how much residents can be asked or are willing to pay for preservation.
Many other audience questions involved the actual process of how a development plan progresses through the zoning, planning, and supervisor boards.
The board members invited the public to attend some of those meetings and familiarize themselves with the process.
Will Rivinus, a Solebury resident for 66 years, thanked the supervisors for holding the session, as well as the people who attended.
Baum Baicker said the board will consider all the night’s comments and those that are being received on the township’s website. After that, another meeting will be scheduled to discuss the results, he said.
Baum Baicker also plugged one of his pet projects, the New Hope-Solebury Free Library’s 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, Spelling Bee, at the high school. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and are available online at nhslibrary.org or at the door. Proceeds benefit the library.
The supervisors are fielding a spelling bee team that consists of McEwan, Morrissey and Baum Baicker. One of the teams they will face comes from their own police department made up of Sgt. Marc Mansour, Patrol Officer Patrick Dorsey and Patrol Officer Megan Klosterman.