Jul 28, 2014
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Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing

A conditional use hearing was held for a new borough hall on Bridge Street.

Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing Council Gets a Look at New Borough Hall During Hearing

Plans for Phoenixville’s new borough hall were shown at Tuesday’s borough council meeting.

Representatives from Spiezle Architecture Group, along with the civil engineer working on the project, were on hand to discuss the new building, which will be located adjacent to the current district justice building at 347 Bridge St. The three-story building will be 45-feet high and plans include 123 parking spaces.

The police department will be housed on the first floor, with a gated, covered police parking area around the back. The second floor will feature administrative offices and windows where residents speak to borough staff. The third floor has the public meeting space, which can be divided into a smaller conference room area. A caucus room, archive storage, the public works office, a break room for employees and the server room will also be on the third floor.

Existing elevators and stairwells will be used, and one new stairwell will be added from the second floor to the third floor in the new building. Council President Richard Kirkner said the district justice building was built in anticipation of the addition.

“The lobby was built with another building to the west of the existing building in mind,” Kirkner said.

As a conditional use hearing, the focus was on the footprint, general layout, parking and circulation on the site, rather than the overall design. More input on that can be given during the subdivision and land development phase, according to Solicitor Andrew Rau.

Kirkner said he had some concerns with the design but understood that it was not really the forum for that at the conditional use hearing.

“It just looks awfully boxy for a municipal building,” he said.

The council president also expressed some concerns about stormwater on the site, which is near the French Creek. He asked what would happen if a storm like Hurricane Agnes came through.

“The parking lot will be under water,” said Mike Thomas, civil engineer at Hunt Engineering Company.

Police officers would still have access to their garage from the east but not the west in a bad storm situation, Thomas said. The stormwater management system will be buried under the parking lot, which would be covered in water in the event of a flood.

Planning Commission Member David Saneck said he was concerned about building in a flood-prone area. Saneck cast the dissenting vote on the planning commission, which voted 5-1 to recommend approval of the conditional use for the project.  

Resident William McGinley said he didn’t like that there was a good chance the police department could be limited to one access in the event of a flood. He also criticized the spending on the project.

“You’re wasting $8 million,” McGinley said.

The conditional use hearing dealt with whether or not the building could be used for a  municipal use and the hearing was required by the borough's zoning ordinances. Council voted 8-0 to approve the conditional use application.

The plans aren't set in stone and will go back before the planning commission and may also be discussed in the infrastructure committee. The project will come back to council for preliminary and final approvals. The new borough hall will also have to go through the borough's Historical Architecture Review Board.  

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