KENNETT SQUARE, PA – By a 4-3 vote, council Monday night adopted an ordinance that creates a new, expanded historic district, disbands the borough’s historic commission, and creates a unified Historic Architectural Review Board. The measure will affect every structure in the new and refined historic district.
“This is probably the toughest decision that we have made as a council,” said Leon Spencer, council president.
Councilors Geoff Bosley, Chip Plumley and Patrick Taylor dissented.
The ordinance is the result of a compromise from a previous proposed historic district ordinance that was more stringent and had two separate historic zones. That proposal was defeated last year.
Sixth Ward Councilor and “man of the people”, Jody Rhoads shared his thoughts with me about the recent action taken by Pottstown Borough Council to remove the Historic Architectural Review Board’s (HARB) jurisdiction over the Downtown Commercial District. The motion as stated on the Council Agenda was:
13. Motion to adopt an Ordinance amending the boundaries of Certified Local Historic Districts to eliminate a portion of the Downtown Commercial District from the Old Pottstown Historic District
The motion passed by a 4-3 vote at Pottstown Borough Council’s November 14th meeting. Councilors voting in favor of the amendment were Toroney, Allen, Chomnuck and Rhoads. Councilors voting against the amendment were Gibson, Kirkland and Weand.
Councilor Rhoads’ reasons for voting in favor are:
- I believe anyone who wants to open a business or buy a property in town will do so and keep the architecture we have.
- There is nothing holding anyone back from consulting any HARB member for opinions if they are interested in a downtown property. HARB members who are so interested can keep tabs on issues coming through Borough Hall.
- I believe there is now such a significant awareness of the concerns that we will not lose the architecture we have.
- Pottstown is stuck in a rut and no one wants to make changes. For the good of the community, we need to move forward.
- And most significantly; this decision can be reversed if needed.
Despite a difference of opinion by three councilors and the HARB Board, the majority of Council has spoken. As Councilor Rhoads pointed out, if down the road this decision proves to be flawed, it can be changed by a vote of Council.
Members of the Historic Architectural Review Board are:
Joseph Fay, Chairman
P. Richard Frantz