Rosemary Northcutt is the Democratic Party candidate to represent Ward 5 on Conshohocken’s Borough Council. The same questions were asked of all candidates, however, they were slighting altered for the lone incumbent (Karen Tutino in Ward 1). All answers are as provided and unedited by MoreThanTheCurve.com.
Describe your background and why you chose to run.
As a long-time Conshohocken resident, homeowner, neighbor and active participant in Conshohocken community life, I am deeply vested in the current and future success of Conshohocken. My years as an educator and as the Program Director of a county-wide child care provider have kept me attuned to the needs of children and families. My volunteer work with Girl Scouts, the Conshohocken Free Library, and the St. John AME Food Pantry have kept me in touch with the rich diversity of our Borough. I want to represent the people of Ward 5 on the Borough Council as we work together to preserve and promote Conshohocken’s residential, historic and natural features, expand services that enhance the quality of life, and monitor high-quality development in our limited physical space.
In September 2015 Borough Council sent its solicitor to endorse a development project before the Zoning Hearing Board. Do you think that action hindered the Zoning Hearing Board’s independence? If not, under what conditions would you support taking similar action in the future?
When Conshohocken Solicitor Michael Savona, representing the Conshohocken Borough Council, made an appearance before the Zoning Hearing Board in September, 2015, he stated that it was a rare occasion, “the first time in nine years”.
I am not privy to the deliberations made by Council members before choosing to take this singular action. I trust that the unusual circumstances that led to the Council members’ decision will not reoccur in the foreseeable future. The independent operation of the Zoning Hearing Board is of the utmost importance.
What is the biggest misconception about Conshohocken?
Many people do not realize that our roughly one-square mile, densely-populated Borough is a seasonal habitat for hummingbirds, the endangered monarch butterfly and other migrating species. The protection and expansion of our private and public green spaces will welcome more of these natural treasures to our community.
Since 2010, three members of Borough Council have resigned before finishing a single term. How committed are you to remain a resident of Conshohocken and your ward specifically?
My husband and I purchased our home in Conshohocken’s 5th Ward over thirty-seven years ago. We raised our two daughters here and now take our three grandchildren to play in Mary Wood Park or to choose a book at the Conshohocken Free Library.
As a committed Conshohocken resident, I am running for a full four-year term on our Borough Council to play a role in the shaping of Conshohocken’s future.
The redevelopment of the publicly owned property at West Elm and Fayette hasn’t moved forward since a developer was selected in 2013. What are your thoughts on the process that led to the selection of the developer?
Two development proposals made it to the final stage for the publicly-owned property at West Elm and Fayette Streets in 2013. Brandywine Realty Trust of Radnor offered a supplement to their proposal at the start of the Council Voting Meeting. The Keystone Property Group’s proposal was accepted. Key conditions were placed on the agreement:
• Approval of the final plans by the Zoning Hearing Board, the Planning Commission, PennDot, and other regulators.
• A two-year boundary for the agreement with the option for two six-month extensions based on the meeting of specific criteria.
Again, I am not privy to the deliberations made by Council prior to the selection of the Keystone Property Group’s proposal. However, I am appreciative of the safeguards that were put into place by Council before any physical development can begin.
The outgoing president of Borough Council referred to Conshohocken as “semi-urban” in a 2014 interview with a tech blog. Do you think that is an accurate description or at least where Conshohocken is heading? If you do not feel it is an accurate description, what term would you use to describe Conshohocken?
I do agree with Paul McConnell’s praise of Conshohocken as “the place to come to, the place to stay and the place to grow”.
A semi-urban community is walkable, offers an array of housing choices, provides access for private and public transportation, attracts a variety of businesses and sustains institutions such as our Conshohocken Elementary School, houses of worship, parks and recreation facilities like the Schuylkill River Trail.
Conshohocken’s continued image as an extremely-desirable, semi-urban community requires careful monitoring of residential and commercial development within the Borough and the strengthening of planning and development partnerships with our neighboring communities.
Council members usually have one area of local government they are especially passionate about. What do you see as the one issue you will be most passionate?
In 2006/7, Conshohocken residents reviewed and updated the Borough of Conshohocken’s Comprehensive Plan. The Land Use Priorities identified then, remain priorities in today’s Conshohocken. Among these priorities are:
• Preservation of the density and character of established residential neighborhoods;
• Enhancing the character of new commercial and residential development to better reflect the value and resources of the community;
• Preservation of public open space along the riverfront and throughout the Borough;
• Preservation of historic resources;
These conclusions were reached by a diverse team of dedicated residents in 2006/7. They have been expressed directly to me by residents of Ward 5 during my campaign door-knocking, in informal sidewalk conversations and at “Conshy at the Crossroads” sessions. These conclusions are also reflected in public comments at Borough Council, Planning Commission and Zoning Hearing Board meetings.
I will keep these Land Use Priorities as identified by the citizens of Conshohocken, central in my service on Borough Council.