Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Limerick Supervisors Move Mega Project Forward, Finalize $75 Million Sale of Sewer System

A site plan for an earlier version of Limerick Town Center. Under the preliminary site plan approved last night, the town homes at the top of the triangle have been re-arranged, but the scale of the project remains the same.

A township supervisors meeting of less than 30 minutes nevertheless saw two votes of great importance.

The first was the approval of the preliminary site plan for the Limerick Town Center project. a large development which will alter one of the township's busiest intersections for many years to come.

And the second vote was the closing on the deal to sell the town's sewer system to Aqua PA, netting the township more than $70 million.

Limerick Town Center

The vote on Limerick Town Center was unanimous, although Supervisor Patrick Morroney was absent, and made without any further public review or comment.

Obviously pleased, developers from Ridge Swamp Associates LLP quickly thanked the supervisors and fled the meeting before anything changed.

This photo shows the more recent arrangement of the town homes.
The vote moves the project into the next phase in the land development process, the development and engineering of a final site plan, which must also be recommended by the township planning commission and win another approval from the township supervisors.

The is a large development project on 30 acres with more than 300 senior living units and 160 townhomes at the intersection of Ridge Pike and Swamp Pike
In addition to the townhomes and the 308 senior units — comprised of a mixture of independent living, assisted living and “memory care” units — the plan also calls for three retail buildings that have 32,000 square feet of space on the first floor, with apartments above.

The project was made possible by changes the supervisors made at the developers’ request to the township zoning code to allow the three uses on the same parcel, said Robert Brant, the attorney representing the developers.

In exchange, the developers agreed to extend Lewis Road through the property to Swamp Pike, thus allowing northbound drivers to avoid having to make a right turn onto Ridge Pike and then the very sharp left onto Swamp Pike, and vice versa.

However, the plan now includes a traffic circle, for the intersection of Swamp Pike, Lewis Road and the proposed new road, Arcadia Drive

The first phase of the project to be built will be the senior living building, followed by townhouses and then finally, the commercial, Brant said previously.

$75 Million Sewer System Sale

As for the sale of the sewer system, it comes about after years and years of discussion.

The township took over operation of the sewer system from the Limerick Sewer Authority in 2008 in what might be described as a hostile take-over and following a protracted fight between the two.

Limerick Township Municipal Authority was created by the Limerick supervisors in 1966 and operated as an independent municipal authority. 

In March, 2008, One month after the supervisors moved to dissolve the authority,  the authority filed a court injunction to prevent the township from taking over the authority.

David Kane
The township argued said such a power transfer would achieve cost savings for Limerick in the long run, while those representing the authority have said pure politics are at play, largely by former Supervisors Chairman David Kane, who was sentenced to four years in federal prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to filing a false income tax return, failure to file income tax returns, tax evasion and mail fraud.

But ultimately, the issue was resolved in the township's favor, after thousands of dollars in legal fees had been accumulated, and the transfer moved ahead in September of that year.

Flash forward to 2016, when the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the $75.1 million sale of the township sewer system to Aqua Pennsylvania Wastewater Inc.

The sale was not finalized until July 25 of this year, however, due to delays caused by a lengthy review by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission, said Beth DiPrete, the township's assistant manager and treasurer.

The system has two treatment plants, one on Possum Hollow Road and the other on King Road, as well as 18 pump stations and miles of underground pipe.

DiPrete said after deductions were made to the sale price to pay off $3.7 million sewer bond incurred by the sewer authority, and other debts by the township, that the net gain is $70,489,941.

Supervisors Chairwoman Elaine DeWan said the board decided to sell the sewer system because of a number of major capital projects on the horizon and the burgeoning population.

"When I moved here in 2001, there were 9,000 people and now there are 19,000," she said.

One of those capital projects can be seen at 646 Ridge Pike, where a new $10 million township and police building has risen where the former township building once stood.

Plans call for the township to move back into those new offices on Aug. 15, when the township will be closed for business.

DiPrete said the township borrowed $6 million for that project because of the delay caused by the PUC in obtaining the money from the sewer system sale. Another $4 million was borrowed to pay for the new public works garage built behind the new township building.

DeWan said the township built a new Limerick Fire Station on Ridge Pike and intends to undertake a $2.5 million renovation of the Linfield Fire station. Both fire companies are in the process of merging into a single company, but both stations are still needed, she said.

She said the sale will also fund other major capital projects, such as improvements to the intersection of Royersford Road and Linfield-Trappe Road.

"To pay for all that would have required us to double the township's taxes or more," DeWan said. She also said the customers of the sewer system were protected by the fact that the deal includes a proviso that sewer rates cannot be increased for the next three years.

The township stated another reason for selling the sewer system was because of increasing operational costs and future capital investments that would need to be done to the system. Regulations made by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would begin to place a greater financial and operational burden on the entire department..

Additionally, capital investments to the current $36 million collection and treatment system would have been required.

The sale was made easier, said DiPrete, by a change in Pennsylvania law on how the value of such facilities are calculated.

The current Limerick Township Seal, which hangs in the
offices on South Limerick road.

The supervisors also voted Tuesday night to spend $5,000 to explore the possibility of converting 1,400 street lights to LED lights to hep reduce the township's annual street light bill of about $50,000.

And, as the township prepares to move into its new building, the supervisors voted to auction off the few pieces of furniture brought along to the temporary quarters on South Limerick Road, occupied while the new township building was constructed.

Additionally, Supervisor Kenneth Sperring asked about beginning work on designing a new seal for the township. He was told no seal will be erected in the new township building until the design has been approved by the board of supervisors.

And now, after a long report about a short meeting, here are the Tweets.

1 comment:

  1. Here is an interesting article about LED Street Lights