Sanctuary-Conversion Policy Hearing Moved Up
Residents can weigh in Sept. 12.
A proposal to make it easier for people in Lower Merion to renovate former houses of worship and other historical buildings into homes will go to a public hearing a week earlier than anticipated.
The township's Board of Commissioners decided Wednesday night to set a public hearing for Sept. 12, rather than the Sept. 19 that had been planned the previous week. The board has a summer recess so will not meet again until Sept. 6.
Several property owners have approached the township in recent months to seek help retrofitting churches and other old community buildings, which prompted the proposed new policy. Some commissioners still have objections to parts of the policy, such as the inclusion of buildings with cemeteries, which require costly maintenance that would default to the township's responsibility if the building were ever abandoned.
Said board president Liz Rogan, "I would expect the board members will be able to take the time over this recess to look over that ordinance and come up with any adjustements they feel are appropriate."
Regardless of the tenor of the public hearing, the board would probably need at least 30 days before moving to adopt a policy.
"I'm pleased we’re moving forward with this. I think we’re moving forward with this in the right way," Commissioner Brian McGuire said.
Also at Wednesday night's meeting, Commissioner Scott Zelov told Rogan and Township Manager Doug Cleland he wanted to discuss changing how the township makes purchases from its equipment fund. For instance, the township is in the process of buying eight new police vehicles, an expense that would not need to go to the BOC for approval under current policy.
No action has yet been taken on Zelov's request.