Photos by Evan Brandt
At top, an artist's rendering of the site plan lay-out proposed for the 51-unit Cross Roads development as apartments, instead of townhouses. Below, a look at the proposed design for the buildings.
Members of the Pottsgrove School Board got a thorough review of the newly controversial Crossroads apartment proposal in Upper Pottsgrove Tuesday night, but declined to make a decision.
Instead, after hearing from the developer and two Upper Pottsgrove Township Commissioners, the school board decided they should wait for the township to take action, since planning and development issues are primarily in their purview.
The school board is only involved because it is part to a 10-year-old legal settlement over the development which is now being implemented. The only question before both boards is whether to let Delaware Valley Development Co. build apartments instead of townhouses.
Rendition of a project now under construction in Reading, which
school board member Al Leach called "beautiful.
There were few in the audience of Tuesday night's school board meeting.
After hearing from the developer's representative, the board voted to table the vote on whether to support the request to build apartments until its Nov. 15 meeting.
In other significant news, the board also undertook a discussion about what to do with a $2.3 million budget surplus resulting from the 2015-2016 budget.
Business Manager David Nester explained the surplus had several causes, including lower than expected fuel, pension and health costs, as well as $400,000 more from the state than expected and an accounting decision about which budget year to place $750,000 in money from the state to reimburse for construction.
The decisions are not yet final, although the board did vote to "re-commit" $375,000 in the PSERS retirement fund that was not used as expected last year, to be used for the same purpose this year.
The board has to spend or assign at least $1 million of the money or the surplus will exceed 8 percent and, by law, the district would lose the option of raising taxes in the upcoming budget for the 2017-2018 school year.
A motion by School Board President Rick Rabinowitz to put $1.5 million of the money into the district's capital reserve fund was tabled by the board.
There was also discussion about "returning" the money to the taxpayers, although the idea of sending small refund checks was soon discarded in favor of simply putting it toward keeping taxes down in the coming budget -- IF that's the option the board chooses to pursue.
Other members said considering the district's "unacceptable" standardized test scores that perhaps the money should be spent on programs to improve the educational program.
More in more detail in upcoming editions of The Mercury.
In the meantime, here are the many, many, many Tweets from the meeting: