Louis Gambone lives along on Level Road in Lower Providence Township, just to the right of the currently closed Arcola Bridge. Since the start of the lengthy project to replace the aging bridge, Gambone has been forced to give over parts of his property to the project, dealt with massive construction equipment and, like most township residents of course, has suffered through the detours forced by a closed bridge.
Under the flood plain provisions of the township, however, he was forced to come to the Lower Providence Township Board of Supervisors Thursday night to ask for a conditional use to do precisely what Montgomery County was doing across the street.
Gambone came before the supervisors in a conditional use hearing Thursday for approval of his property at 357 Level Road, a 6.2 acre piece of land, to ask that fill be permitted to level the ground near the bridge and creek.
“We have a low-lying area that we’d like to fill in due to the changes taking place with the new bridge,” said Gambone, who testified that his property includes an old grist mill dating back to the 1700s. “About 8,500 square feet of area is low-lying and we are looking to put fill into that space.”
Lower Providence Township Engineer Timothy Woodrow had surveyed the area and provided his letter of recommendation to the supervisors. Both Woodrow and the landowner agreed that there would be no adverse effects of placing the fill. It would not impact the flood plain, the carrying capacity of the stream, nor any neighbors up- or downstream.
Dan Bliss, a neighbor of Gambone’s, also commented during the hearing that he was for the fill being placed.
“There are only a couple of properties down there, and ours is one of them,” said Bliss. “I live across the street from the property in question, and we’ve been through a couple of floods so I know what the flood plain does there. I spoke with Lou, and I don’t know how many inches will increase the grade, but I can’t expect it will flood the property any more. I’m fine with this.”
No other public comment was received during the hearing. The board then had 45 days to make a decision on the matter, but decided to take an immediate vote of action.
Agreeing that the property owner must adhere to the two recommendations Woodrow had made, including showing any limits of the 100-year flood plain in the plans, as well as showing the maximum fill heights prior to the project’s start, the supervisors moved to vote Thursday night.
While Chairwoman Colleen Eckman and Vice Chairman Jason Sorgini were both not present at the meeting, the three remaining supervisors voted in a 3-0 unanimous approval of the allowance.
Gambone additionally had requested that, since the project was a result of the county’s replacement of Arcola Bridge, that his fees for the conditional use would be waived.
“We’ve been working with the county and the township in conjunction with the bridge work,” said Gambone. “We ask that you waive the fees since we are working together with you on this project.”
Supervisor Don Thomas moved to table such a decision until the full board of supervisors could be present. The motion was approved, 3-0, moving the topic to the next supervisors’ meeting which will be on Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m.