FRANCONIA — The township has a new five-year cable television franchise agreement with Verizon Pennsylvania LLC.

It was approved at the Franconia Township Board of Supervisors Feb. 16 meeting. 

"Verizon obviously has a current franchise agreement with the township," said Eric Wert, the township's solicitor, prior to the vote. 

"Essentially, this is an agreement moving forward to continue the franchise with Verizon," he said.

"The franchise fee remains the same, which is 5 percent," said Township Manager Jon Hammer.

Federal law allows municipalities to set the franchise fee at up to 5 percent of the cable company's gross revenue in that municipality, he said.

Franconia also has a franchise agreement with Comcast. 

The cable television franchise fee from the two companies is expected to bring in $236,000 for Franconia this year according to the township's 2021 budget.

In other matters:

• In the work session preceding the regular business meeting, the board received an overview of expansion plans at the Souderton Mennonite Homes campus of Living Branches.

"The focus right now with respect to that campus is on the expansion of the nursing center and the memory care center," said Carl Weiner, Living Branches attorney.

"That is something that Living Branches would like to pursue in the near future," he said. "Going forward, there are also potential independent living units that could be added to that site as well."

Plans for those additions have not yet been submitted to the township, he said. A conceptual plan was shown at the meeting.

Over time, Living Branches has acquired properties adjacent to the Souderton Mennonite Homes campus, Weiner said, and the first step for the expansion plans is to have those properties rezoned for institutional use.

Suggested changes will also be made to the zoning ordinance, he said.

"We want to make sure that you and staff are comfortable with the changes we're making to the ordinance and once that is in place we can move forward with the building designs," Weiner said.

Board members said they had no objection to the proposed zoning changes and work can continue to make proposed ordinance changes, which would be reviewed further before a decision is made. 

• Under social distancing guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held as a virtual meeting. 

"The good news is Montgomery County has 22,000 people vaccinated and there's 830,000 people in Montgomery County so we will be back to live meetings by Christmas of 2023 the way I've calculated the math," board Chairman Grey Godshall joked. 


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