Voters headed to the polls on the first Tuesday of November to elect their local representatives, including school board members, township commissioners, and judges at various levels. Results came in, and Scott Zelov (P’17, ’21) retained his office as Lower Merion Township Ward 10 Commissioner, a position he has held since 2006. Running under both Republican and Democratic tickets, Zelov won unopposed. Commissioner Zelov will continue to work with other members of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners to set the township budget for each ward, including Ward 4, which contains The Haverford School.
The Haverford School may be seen as one contiguous plot of land in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, but there is more to it than that. The school is physically bounded by four roads owned by two townships, in two counties, and it faces a state road at the main entrance. The interplay of state, county, and township laws on the administration of the school is complex.
On the corner campus facing Lancaster Avenue and Buck Lane, there is a green street sign with gold painted letters, signifying Lower Merion Township territory. All roads owned by Lower Merion Township have this iconic street sign design. Most of the school’s campus and all of its built structures lie in Lower Merion Township. Land use and zoning laws govern, restrict, and ultimately permit the height, scale, and footprint of the various buildings on campus. For example, the recent construction of the middle school building required close work with Lower Merion Township. School administrators had to comply with Lower Merion’s various zoning and safety standards. Public tax records reveal that the portion of the school’s land in Lower Merion Township totals 19.2 acres. Montgomery County assesses a value on the land and buildings in the Lower Merion portion of campus at $10 million for the land and $34 million for the buildings. This $44 million total assessed value has no meaning to the school administration and finance office, as Haverford does not pay property taxes. The school is a non-profit organization, which declares them exempt from property taxes.
The campus is seen as one contiguous plot of land in Lower Merion Township, but it gets intricate for some aspects. For example, the school administration must get approval from both townships for impervious surface coverage.
At the intersection of Buck Lane and Panmure Road, there is a bright green street sign written with white capital letters. This is the design of street signs in Haverford Township, Delaware County. Eagle Field, the tennis courts, and Class of ’75 Field all lie in Haverford Township. The paved path from Palmer House to the lower school parking lot is the border between the two townships and counties. In a video filmed on campus from 1997, the paved path presently walked by students was County Line Road. At one point, the road was de-mapped and turned into part of Haverford’s campus. This incorporated part of the campus into Haverford Township. Although the Class of ’75 Field is in Haverford Township, it required approval from Lower Merion. The campus is seen as one contiguous plot of land in Lower Merion Township, but it gets intricate for some aspects. For example, the school administration must get approval from both townships for impervious surface coverage. An impervious surface does not allow stormwater to freely seep into the ground. There must be adequate absorbent surfaces to avoid flash floods, similar to the one that happened in September of this year.
The State of Pennsylvania has an impact on the school, too. Wilson Hall faces Lancaster Avenue, also known as US Route 30. Route 30 extends from Atlantic City, N.J. to Astoria, Oregon. When the highway goes through Pennsylvania, it is operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation or PennDOT. Road work done on Lancaster Avenue is commissioned by the state, and the street signs are designed by them. Separately, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is reviewing the school’s accreditation as an educational institution. The process allows Haverford to be a legal school. This review and renewal occur every ten years.
As we approach the holiday break, Scott Zelov and his fellow township commissioners will vote on and likely approve the 2022 annual budget for Lower Merion Township. This budget funds the various departments within the township that interact with The Haverford School and impact the quality of life along the historic Main Line. In future years, the school administration will likely work with both townships for the next great capital project on campus.
“We find ourselves routinely working with the localities in various respects, and we try our best to be good neighbors,” Head of School Mr. Casertano said.