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Borough Council Legislative Meeting, April 21st, 2011

Apr 21

Borough Council Legislative Meeting, April 21st, 2011

Hampton Inn Preliminary Approval Passed

At tonight’s Borough Council legislative meeting, Borough Council approved the Hampton Inn preliminary plan, meaning the hotel will likely be built. Representatives from the Pinnacle Hospitality Group presented the summary of their final plan, which included numerous concessions for the residents of Allen Lane behind the proposed structure, and additional capital investments to the area including:

  • Up to $35,000 to for traffic controls to address any future issues along Beatty Road and Providence Road
  • Work to get approval for sidewalk construction on the western edge of Providence Rd. for residents of Pennock Place and Jefferson Street
  • Commitment to prevent any spillover light from parking lots into Allen Lane

After the motion was made and seconded, Councilman Jim Cunningham proposed adding 6 addendums to the preliminary approval, stating that his opposition to the Hampton Inn was part of the reason he was elected in 2007. The substance of the addendums were to increase the capital commitment of The Hampton Inn to screening Allen Lane residents, increasing the amount paid for paving of Beatty Road and for other improvements to be committed to by the applicant.

After making his statement, Borough Council President Pete Alyanakian stated that he agreed with many, but not all, of Mr. Cunningham‘s additions. Councilman Peter Wiliamson pointed out that Mr. Cunningham had been a part of this process for months, and that making addendums at the last minute made good “political theater,” but that he would reject the addendums at this late date.

The motion passed 6-1, with Mr. Cunningham the sole dissenting vote.

Planning Commission Stripped of Signage Review

Prior to the normal legislative meeting, there was a public hearing regarding the change in ordinance to remove the power of reviewing signage from the Planning Commission.

In a 4-3 vote, the Planning Commission was stripped of its power to review and revise sign requests for the borough. Instead, this power is given to the Borough Code Enforcement Officer Jim Jeffries and the Community Design Committee, which consists of council members Jim Cunningham, Peter Williamson, and Eric Stein.

The vote was split amongst the “New Coalition” lines, with Borough Council Vice-President Monika Rehoric and Dawn Roe joining Republicans Pete Alyanakian and Jim Cunningham in favor of stripping the power from the Planning Commission.

Arguments in favor of stripping the Planning Commission of the power were that the process was too burdensome for businesses, and that the Planning Commission would routinely make additional requests of business owners who were within the “letter of the signage law.” In addition, Jim Cunningham indicated that it was a waste of time for Planning Commission to review signs. An example was given from previous planning commissions where a businessman wanted to change the color of his sign, and was asked to add plantings and landscaping to the bottom which was currently concrete. In addition, the statement was made that no other borough in Delaware County runs sign reviews through their Planning Commission. Jim Cunningham called the existing policy “big government run Amok.”

Arguments against the ordinance change were that it reduces citizen input into the signage process, and Councilman Eric Stein stated, “I like what’s here in Media, and I’m a little bit loathe to take another opportunity for community participation.” Peter Williamson, who originally was in favor of the ordinance, said he was swayed by the feedback from the Planning Commission, stating that the review of signs by the Planning Commission does improve the look of signs in the borough. He qualified the example given, stating that the businessman who requested to change the color of his sign had to spend 15 minutes explaining his sign, and the suggestions of the Planning Commission were to bring the sign up to current regulations; and that the businessman had agreed to the changes.

During the public hearing, Planning Commission Chairperson Kevin Matson reiterated his, and the planning commissions, opposition to the change.

While Pete Alyanakian and Jim Cunningham stated that the existing policy was adding to “big government”, the change, in fact, takes power away from the citizen-run Planning Commission, and places that power with three elected government officials in the Community Design Committee.

1 West State Street Presentation

There was continued discussion regarding 1 West State Street, kicked off at the beginning of the meeting with a letter read aloud by Paul Robinson, penned by former Borough Council President Joan Hagan, who was unable to attend. A copy of Joan Hagan’s letter regarding 1 West State Street can be read here, but the main points can be summarized:

  • Any sale must increase the strength of State Street
  • The building is a difficult rental property
  • The facade easement may be unenforceable, and zoning changes are out of Borough Council’s control
  • Consider alternatives, such as:
    • a stronger lease
    • a public/private partnership, whereby the borough retains ground and leases development rights. The borough would have a stronger say as to design standard and use.

During the meeting, Richard Ortega from The Heritage Group outlined their plans for the building. He gave a short overview of his history with Media, showed many historic photos of the building, and outlined their plans for revamping the front and back of the building to improve the facade and convert the building into three primary units with additional basement and 3rd floor spaces for possible additional tenants. Many of the photos showed the deteriorating condition of the building, which is in need of repair.

Borough Website Redesign

A short discussion preceded Monica Simpson’s motion to approve the contract for the web site redesign for by municipal web site development firm, aHa! Consulting.

Pete Alyanakian was opposed to it, stating that in his 12 years on council, no one has made a negative comment about the website, that it was “chock-full of information, a great resource for people” and wanted to wait until later in the year to make this purchase despite the fact that the price was below budgeted figures.

According to Councilperson Monica Simpson, she stated that they have had requests “for years to update it, to make it more interactive and user-friendly,” and would likely save money for the borough, up to $2,400 per newsletter which is currently sent out via postal mail.

Councilperson Eric Stein added that compared to other municipalities, which spend between 7% and 14% of their total budgets on Information Technology (IT), Media Borough spends 0.2% on IT.

The motion passed, 5-2, with Jim Cunningham joining Pete Alyanakian in opposition to the website redesign.

Other News

Jim Cunningham votes “No”

The following issues came up and but were not unanimously approved:

  • Payment of bills for March (Passed, 6-1. Jim Cunningham against, due to the presence of CMAQ and 3rd Street Dam bills)
  • Media Theatre had an addendum to their lease agreement¬† exchange services and some cash for $16,000 from the borough to apply for a $200,000 grant for improvements to the buidling. (Passed, 6-1,¬† Jim Cunningham oppossed).
  • Mass Gathering Permit September 10th for Media Business Authority’s CAC Art Show (Passed, 6-1, Jim Cunningham opposed due to the fact that it extended beyond Orange St.)

Other business

The following other resolutions passed unanimously:

  • Mass Gathering Permits
    • May 4th for Today’s Child Learning Center
    • May 26th for Nativity B.V.M.’s Race for Education
    • September 18th for Town Talk Newspapers’ Fall Super Sunday
    • October 29th for Town Talk Newspapers’ 47th Annual Halloween Parade
      • with the addendum that Public Safety would review the throwing of candy and erect barriers if necessary
    • July 9th, Media Arts Council Bastille Day & Independence Celebration
  • Amendment to the Delaware Valley Health Insurance Trust agreement (enabling the borough to negotiate health care among multiple providers for staff)
  • Construction of a handicapped ramp in the right of way at Monroe Street and State Streets (WSFS Bank moving into the old Benari Jewelers location)
  • Removal of a brick sidewalk at 326 w. 4th St.
  • Application for county aid for liquid fuels fund ($25,000)
  • Authorize advertisement of bids for road resurfacing and storm sewer maintenance/rehabilitation
  • Authorize a part-time turn key replacement to monitor the borough jail

The meeting ended after approximately 2 hours, at 9:42 PM.

Finally, after the meeting, Paul Cavanagh approached and requested a fact-check of this article, which contained a statement made by Ernie Derrickson saying that Paul Cavanagh had served on the Emergency Planning Commission, which he stated was incorrect. The original article has been updated.