Tuesday, April 12, 2016

'No' to Cluster Zoning Support, And a Giant Chicken

You never know who you're going to run into
on the streets of Pottstown.
I've lived in Pottstown long enough now, that I was only mildly surprised to be addressed by a giant chicken with Gene Dugan's head as I made my way down North Hanover Street to Monday night's borough council meeting.

And when he showed up at borough hall and joined me in the elevator, I barely batted an eye.

"Hey, it's Pottstown," I said.

But as amusing as it was, Dugan was there with a serious purpose.

He was helping his wife Sheila, who happens to be the director of the Pottstown Downtown Improvement District Authority, promote the pending FARM Market that opens on High Street May 5.

A good sport (and, I daresay, a good husband), he was even sure to flap his wings gently while Sheila outlined the plans to council for the first day of the market.

(Look for a story about the Chili Cook-off that will help kick-off the farmers market in an upcoming edition of The Mercury.)

And yes, I shot video for those of you who crave more giant chicken in your life, just scroll down through the Tweets, you'll see it.

But as good news as that is, the headline news from last night's council meeting is most likely the 6-1 vote by council to send a letter opposing variance requests being sought by the Cluster of Religious Communities for the former Wainman Mansion on North Franklin Street.

The Cluster, which operates a food pantry and clothing center at its Outreach Center next door (in the former American Legion Post) bought the property last year, took it off the tax rolls and is now asking for variances to convert it into offices, classrooms and meeting rooms.

The Cluster has pledged to pay 25 percent of its borough tax bill, but has made no such pledge about the much larger school tax bill.

Only Councilman Ryan Procsal, in whose ward the building sits, proposed that borough council stay out of it and let the zoning hearing board handle it as best they saw fit.

Not only did the rest of council believe otherwise, but Councilman Dennis Arms, who made the motion to oppose the Cluster's variance request, went so far as to say "I would rather see the building vacant"  -- a remarkable statement from an elected official who says he wants to revitalize Pottstown.

But like I said before, "hey, it's Pottstown."

Giant chickens walk the streets here.

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