Swarthmore Borough Council
By Katie Crawford
Borough Council president David Grove informed community members at the February 6th meeting that a demand letter had indeed been sent by borough solicitor Bob Scott to the lawyer for the National Realty Corporation requesting a meeting regarding the removal of greenery and trees along Baltimore Pike.
Referencing the 1985 agreement between the borough and the developer Claude deBotton, which requires the maintenance of a buffer to delineate between the commercial area of Springfield and the residential area of Riverview Road, the letter details the current violations resulting from the aggressive removal of mature trees and shrubs. In certain areas, no barrier now exists allowing a clear view of Baltimore Pike including passing car headlights. In addition, a fence also required to be maintained under the agreement is currently broken, while another section of fence was improperly placed on a resident’s property line, as opposed to the required distance of ten feet.
There had been no response to the solicitor’s letter as of the Monday night meeting.
Among the many Riverview Road residents present at the meeting, Steve Ellers, a 37-year resident of the street, addressed council. While he is six houses from the property in question, he is now able to clearly see across Baltimore Pike. He asked council to consider how to help the property owners most severely impacted, and also to consider ways that other organizations such as Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, or Swarthmore Horticultural Society might also be able to provide help. Ellers stated, “if another house goes down we could have a domino effect…the situation is terribly depressing at this point.”
Also during public comment Peter Bloom addressed council concerning the group Swarthmore21’s movement to secure sufficient signatures to put the availability of liquor licenses in the borough to a vote in May. Bloom questioned the appropriateness of having transient 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old college students sign a petition which would permanently affect the town before they were able to legally drink. He suggested signers of the petition be limited to those registered voters 21 and older. Bloom feels that “Swarthmore is unique and should remain unique as a dry town.”
In response, council president Grove stated Bloom was in the, “wrong pew, wrong row, wrong church,” reiterating that council has nothing to do with the circulating petition and that the group Swarthmore21 never sought council’s advice.
Grove: “Be Mindful” of School Tax Effects
Council president Grove, referencing last week’s Swarthmorean article, encouraged community members to “be mindful” and get informed about proposed legislation to replace some of the school funding sourced from local real estate taxes with an augmented state income tax. Grove believes the passage of this legislation could have “a profound effect on our schools.” While Grove acknowledged that a retiree like himself would stand to benefit greatly from this change, he sees the legislation as a “very problematic proposal.”
In other council news, David Page, Jeff Jabco, and Karol Bock were all reappointed to the Tree Committee and praised for their excellent past work. Tom Mandel was appointed to the Swarthmore Borough Authority. Denise Disney was reappointed to the Planning Commission. Jenny Schulbank Smith was appointed to the Zoning and Planning Board.
In his remarks, Mayor Tim Kearney agreed with Peter Bloom that the decision to allow liquor in Swarthmore should be decided by town residents. He encouraged people to learn more about the proposal and sited the possible advantage to the Co-op in terms of its ability to compete with other local markets that will be offering beer and wine.
Having attended the Annual Fireman’s Ball which was held for the first time ever in the Inn at Swarthmore, Kearney was reminded of how lucky we are as a community to have people who are “willing to go into a burning building for us.” In 2016, Swarthmore firemen responded to 400 fire calls. There were also 800 ambulance calls. Those assembled at the Ball honored Bob Jones — who retired this year after 13 years as Swarthmore Fire and Protective Association chief and 30 years as a member — and saluted new fire chief Robert Ranson.