SWAN NEWSLETTER #113

October 27, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

Public Works Building The township’s Public Works Department personnel presented preliminary drawings of the planned large addition to their building on the south side of Locust Lane just west of the VoTech school. The plans were prepared by GHD engineers. The metal building addition will contain much needed office and work space, locker rooms and a large truck and vehicle storage and wash facility. The automatic equipment for washing the township’s many trucks, plows and police cars will save significant manpower hours. The total estimated cost of the large project is $3,600,000.00 and the township is hoping for some county grant funds to help pay for it. Complete bidding documents should be ready for final approval by the end of the year.

2016 Budget Township manager George Wolfe made a detailed presentation of the proposed budget for next year which the supervisors had discussed and worked to finalize at previous meetings over the past months. Some of the items he covered in no particular order were:

1) Road and Highway Maintenance There is a continued need to repair roads and streets throughout the township.
2) Pension Plans. No major changes are anticipated.
3) Fire Departments There is a need to allocate funds to help with major equipment purchases for the three township departments in the coming years. The initial planned purchase is a new truck for the Linglestown Fire Company.
4) Police Department The department has 52 officers now. The needed complement is 57 officers. The Department is having difficulty hiring qualified officers and some officers may be retiring soon. There is a need to provide mobile lap top computers in patrol cars. In the future they may also need to have body cameras. A new Public Safety Director needs to be hired.
5) Parks and Recreation Improvements are planned at almost all township parks. Continued efforts will be made to plan for a location for a new park to replace the Hodges Heights Park which is on a settling landfill. The P&R board will be asked to consider whether or not the township should consider raising funds by selling naming rights on park fields to corporate sponsors. The building at the girls’ softball field at Koons Park needs to be completed either by Sam Hartley, who generously did most of the work on the field and the building, or by the township. Tennis courts need to be repaired at several of the parks.
6) Public Works Sewer and storm water piping repairs under highways and streets and elsewhere continue to be needed.

Administration It was reported that money from the tax collectors has been coming into the township much quicker than in previous years. This has been the case county wide. The township has submitted applications for grants from the county for work on improvements on Nyes Road and several other projects.

Tax Increase The supervisors have pretty much agreed that some small tax increase will be necessary in 2016. They have a list of projects they would like to consider initiating and are working on prioritizing them and deciding on which ones they feel could be put forward next year. They plan to resolve this matter by the end of this year.

November 2, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

The meeting was chaired by Acting Public Safety Director Police Lt. Mark Zerbe and attended by the chiefs from the three fire departments, the South Central Emergency Medical Services director, two other police officers and the township manager.

Fire Department Equipment The three fire chiefs have prepared specifications and pricing information on the new major pieces of equipment they would like to be able to purchase in the upcoming years. The supervisors will discuss this information at their next workshop meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 10th. The three chiefs stated that they have their plans already in place for their companies’ work in the upcoming year.

Public Safety Director The position held by David Johnson until some months ago remains unfilled. It was reported that the supervisors are continuing their search to hire a replacement for that position.

Fire Departments’ Reports The Colonial Park chief reported that initial roadway work in the new Shadebrook development along Fairmont Drive indicates that fire trucks and possibly school buses may have problems negotiating some turns on the new roads. A quick drive through confirmed that concern. Township manager George Wolfe said he would review the matter.

South Central EMS Director Jason Campbell raised a concern about the recent failure during an emergency of the automatic traffic signal at one of the township’s major intersections on Route 22. The township stated that it will investigate the problem.

Police Department The department head reported that the township recently hired three new officers. One is a female. That action brings their complement much closer to the needed number of officers in the department. He indicated that it is becoming more difficult to find recruits who meet the high standards required. He reported that the recent Village of Linglestown founding celebration, including the fireworks, went well and that the event was a good training opportunity for the new officers.

I-83 Project Mr. Wolfe reported that there had been a meeting with someone from PennDOT concerning the upcoming project to widen the interstate highway. No details were given. At a previous supervisors’ meeting, neighbors living along the west side of the highway had raised concerns about traffic problems already occurring in their area and Mr. Wolfe offered to try to have someone from PennDOT attend a future meeting to discuss that. He later stated that he had been unsuccessful in that effort.

November 2, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

Public Comment Excavation work has begun for three planned building projects on the township property on the south side of Locust Lane and west of the county VoTech School. The property is the location of the township’s Public Works Department buildings and previously a township park, Hurley Fields, with two baseball fields. The planned projects on the site are a large addition to the main township building, the construction of a county District Justice office and the building of one new baseball field.

A large group of neighbors who live adjacent to or near the township property attended the meeting to voice a number of complaints regarding the project. Approximately ten neighbors spoke about the problems. Concerning the planning, among many items they questioned was the decision to give up a ball field, the need to remove so many trees, the township being allowed to sell land to the county and have them build a District Justice office building on the property in an R-1 Low Density Residential zoning district, the increased traffic, the possibility of reduced property values, and the failure to formally notify the neighbors of the scope of the project. They also questioned if a traffic study had been done. Concerning the construction, they complained that the earth moving equipment was very noisy, even very early in the morning, and that the heavy digging equipment shook the ground severely enough, over some weeks, for the vibrations to shake the houses and crack drywall in some of the adjacent homes.

The supervisors responded that they understood the neighbors concerns and they attempted to address some of them. They responded that with the township growing, the Public Works department needed additional facilities for equipment for road and sewer work. They stated that some additional ball fields have been and will be added in the township, along with the development of one new park and the planning for at least one additional large park. Some of the concerns were legal matters, which the supervisors could not respond to, and unfortunately the solicitor, who usually attended the business meetings, was not present to be able to provide a response. However, they said that the group would need to make their complaints to the supervisors in writing for them to be legally considered and that the township would then respond to the neighbors in writing so that all concerns and responses were properly documented. They thanked the citizens for attending and expressing their concerns.

Township Authority The supervisors needed to act on an agreement with the township sewer authority to approve the replacement of a the private sewer at the township’s property at 5589 Walnut Street. The supervisors voted to approve replacing the sewer.

November 4, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP GREENWAY COMMITTEE MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

Sidewalk Ordinance Committee member, Roy Newsome, discussed a new ordinance recently adopted by Derry Township. It will require developers, who do not originally have to construct sidewalks where a new building is built, to make a fee-in-lieu payment covering the cost of sidewalks if, in the future, they would be required by the municipality. This is similar to the existing requirement in Lower Paxton Township, making a developer donate land for park space or, at the township’s choice, make a fee-in-lieu payment. He said he will make the suggestion to consider this requirement to the Planning Commission and see if they might support the idea and send it up to the supervisors for their consideration.

Sidewalk Connections A few years ago, the supervisors had directed some funds to the committee to be used toward a project of their choice. The committee had planned to put those funds toward the construction of a sidewalk along the west side of Nyes Road south from Jonestown Road to the entrance to George Park. They planned to appeal to the county for a grant to help finance the project. However, the supervisors have not approved the project and it now appears that the funds previously promised will not be available to the committee for any other use. The committee will now try to clarify the apparent misunderstanding with the supervisors.

Park Projects The committee received updates on a number of township projects. On October 20th, the supervisors attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new township park at the Stray Winds Farm development on McIntosh Road. At George Park, sidewalks have been constructed by the Public Works Department and a memorial to the late Mrs. Tom George has been completed. Repair work is planned at Possibility Place including new flooring. More walkways are planned around the perimeter of George Park. Other improvements at many of the parks are already underway or have been approved.

CASA The Capital Area Soccer Association has submitted plans for the construction of a permanent building they want to build to replace their temporary building at the same location, between Ranger Fields and George Park. It will contain a concession stand and some storage space. The location of the building will not interfere with the new paved walkways that are planned. Earlier plans for the building were not considered adequate by the Parks and Recreation Department, but the revised ones for a masonry building are. The supervisors have voted to allow CASA to construct and maintain the building at the park for their use during soccer games and for storage.

November 4, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

Hodges Heights Park The board has been working for some time to find a property in the southeast corner of the township on which the township could consider constructing a new park to replace the existing Hodges Heights Park. The existing park is located on a property adjacent to the township landfill that continues to settle making its long term use a problem.

Just a few days before this meeting Fine Line Reality gave notice that they were putting up for sale a 7.6 acre tract near the intersection of Nyes Road and Conway Road, at an initial asking price of $349,000. The board plans to get a listing sheet with detailed information on the property, investigate the matter, and if they feel it worthwhile to pursue as a possible park location, they would so advise the supervisors. They mentioned that this property, that is fairly adjacent to both Swatara and South Hanover townships, might be considered for the location of a regional park and a contact might be made about this to those two townships.

Brightbill Park The major phase of the construction of the Heroes Grove outdoor amphitheater project is complete. There appears to be a ground water problem at the project location and at the baseball field in the park which will be addressed.

Hurley Fields Work is underway at the township property on Locust Lane to build an addition to the Public Works Department building and the county to build a District Justice office. The two baseball fields that were there have been demolished and one new one will be built as part of the project.

Park Projects The construction of a new small township park in the Stray Winds Farm housing development on McIntosh Road was just completed. A description of the township park projects and park repairs that are planned for the next five years was presented. They are fairly extensive and include new pavilions at Brightbill Park and at Kohl Park, new playground equipment at Forest Hills Park and paved walkways and other improvements at George Park.

November 4, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Reported by Bill Bostic

Commission Election Doug Grove was elected as the commission’s vice chairman.

Final Subdivision Plan for Stray Winds Farm – Phase 2 The plan is for an 18.96-acre tract in the Residential Cluster Zoning District (RC) for 46 housing units. The area to be developed includes the existing Stray Winds Farm mansion. The township staff had no major comments on the proposed final plan. The Planning Commission unanimously approved the plan.

Application for Amendment to the Zoning Map for Autumn Oaks Extended The Planning Commission tabled this application last month to allow time for nearby property owners to be informed of the proposed zoning change.

Joel McNaughton of McNaughton Homes presented details for changing the zoning designation for a 30.5-acre tract on two tax parcels located west of Parkway West from Agriculture Residential (AR) to Low Density Residential (R1). The parcel was formerly part of Parkway Farms. (Map: http://bit.ly/1WS14Cz)

McNaughton would like to build an open-space development on the tract. The development also would extend Continental Drive from Patton Street to Parkway West, which would make Continental Drive an uninterrupted street from Crooked Hill Road in Susquehanna Township to Parkway West.

McNaughton said the zoning change would allow an increase in the number of housing units from 32 to about 54. The change would also allow the homes to be priced for first- and second-time homebuyers. He said the zoning change is feasible because the tract has access to public water and sewer, which wasn’t the case when the 2004 comprehensive plan was created.

Following McNaughton’s presentation, 13 residents – most of them were residents of Centennial Acres – spoke against the zoning change. The majority of the comments focused on concerns with Continental Drive being extended to Parkway West, which could be done under the current zoning designation. Residents also expressed concerns about safety for children, erosion problems with detention ponds constructed for Autumn Oaks, and environmental issues related to wildlife and the Paxton Creek.

Commissioner Lori Staub made a motion to reject the application. Her motion was unanimously approved with no discussion prior to the vote.

The Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing for the McNaughton zoning-change application on Nov. 17, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. in the township municipal center.

Comprehensive Plan Revisions The Planning Commission began the process of reviewing the 2004 comprehensive plan as first step toward issuing a new one.

November 10, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION – Reported by Watson Fisher

Fire Company Equipment The supervisors have been working with the chiefs of the three township fire departments for some time to finalize their plans to purchase needed new engines and to trade in some old items of equipment. In recent months, they have come to agreements on the matter and at this meeting they formalized their requests. To get the best prices for the new equipment, the orders for them need to be placed before the end of the year. The supervisors voted to approve the purchases. They publically commended the three chiefs and their companies personnel for the great number of volunteer hours they spend each year in training, preparation and answering fire calls in the interest of serving the residents of the township.

Sewer Authority Director William Weaver gave the supervisors a review of the proposed procedures for the collection of delinquent sewer fees. There are currently approximately 215 delinquent accounts. The policy of turning off water to a home sometimes works to receive payment, but not for the many homes that have wells. The proposed policy will involve sheriff sales of the properties as a last resort when payments aren’t made. Approval of the policy by both the authority and the supervisors is required. This item will be acted on at their next meeting.

Public Works Facility At the supervisors meeting the previous week, a large group of neighbors attended to complain about the project underway at the township property on Locust Lane. The project involves an addition to the Public Works building, the construction of a county District Justice Office and the building of a baseball field. The group complained about the noise and vibrations from the construction equipment, damage to their properties, and the construction of the DJ’s office in their residential district. The supervisors then requested the neighbors to detail their complaints in writing, for the record, and promised that they would then respond to the complaints in writing. The matter was covered by the local newspaper and reported on television.

The township received their written complaints. And at this meeting, attended by the same large group of neighbors, they were given a written eight page response. After the township’s response was also read aloud, representatives for the neighbors restated their concerns. The concerns included why they were not given notice about the project before construction started and they had particular objections to the DJ’s office being located in their neighborhood. They stated that the township’s requirements for a Special Exception to locate such an office in a residential zoning district were not followed. The township’s attorney responded to that by saying that he had advised the board that in this case the state is not bound by the local municipal regulations.

The neighbors also suggested that criminals would be brought to the DJ’s office, which could endanger the neighbors, especially children. It was acknowledged that the office will contain a holding cell, but that the vast majority of the cases dealt with at the office would be for minor offences and traffic violations. The neighbors concluded by, again, requesting that the project be stopped and that the supervisors should walk the property to get a clearer idea of why the neighbors were registering such strong complaints.

Classic Community A number of residents in phases 4 and 5 of the Quail Hollow housing development, just off Crums Mill Road, attended the meeting to seek help in dealing with the developer, Classic Community. These two phases of the development have approximately 45 homes on Brookes Lane and Laura Lane with only 3 or a few more vacant lots remaining.

The residents stated that the two streets in the development have only the base course, which has deteriorated over the years, they said that traffic has to go over raised manhole covers and raised drains and that some of the drains are clogged. Several cars had been damaged and a child was injured as a result of the unfinished streets. Beside the unfinished street problem, they are concerned that for another winter, the developer will not plow snow from their streets. This has been a serious problem mainly because of the steep hill going out of the development. They reported that the Victoria Abbey and Wyndhurst developments, located along the northern end of Colonial Road, have had similar problems with this same developer. There, the residents retained a different contractor to finish some of the streets. It was stated that there was an indication that Classic Community might be in the process of filing for bankruptcy.

The supervisors stated that the Classic Community developer has the required improvement guarantee bond held by the surety company, which is intended to be used to insure that the roads and the utilities in the Quail Hollow development are completed. However, unfortunately, by the conditions of that bond, it cannot be tapped to pay for the completion of the road work until July of 2016. The supervisors stated that they would send a strongly worded letter to the developer requesting that they address the issue. The supervisors also said the township would investigate whatever else they might be able to do to assist the homeowners before next July.

A similar problem occurred with phase 3 of the same development ten years ago, but with a different developer. A resident there had to appeal to the township for help with snow removal,
and in that case, the supervisors agreed to clear the streets before the improvement guarantee could be tapped because school buses needed to travel on the unfinished streets. At this time school buses do not enter the streets of this final phase of the Quail Hollow development.

Due to the length of the presentations and the responses on the Public Works property discussion the three final, and less urgent items on the supervisors’ meeting agenda, were postponed until the following week’s meeting.

November 17, 2015
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher

Board Members’ Comments Supervisor Gary Crissman advised the public that, in light of the terror attack in Paris, our citizens should make themselves aware of any unusual activities and notify the police of any suspicious behavior.

Public Comment Mark Levine expressed his concern regarding the new road work at the intersection of Crums Mill Road and McIntosh Road in the new Stray Winds Farm housing development. He said the sight distance and turning space will be problems.

Citizens again attended the meeting to complain about the construction project at the township’s Public Works Facility on Locust Lane. Because of the vibrations, caused by the large roller machine, monitoring equipment was ordered to measure the vibrations, but that equipment has not yet arrived so that particular piece of earth moving equipment is not now being used. They restated that the removal of the trees at the edges of the property has allowed the noise from the early morning movement of large township equipment to be more of a problem than before.

The supervisors agreed to work with the neighbors to determine the best way to deal with the noise problem, such as by the planting of certain new trees along the property lines or creating some other noise buffers. Supervisor William Hornung asked that some of the issues that can’t be changed be put behind everyone, and that they focus on what can be done cooperatively to decide how to deal with the noise issue.

Paxton Creek A public hearing, required by the state, was held to inform the citizens of the planned long term strategy to reduce sediment from storm water discharges and stream bank erosion into Paxton Creek. The plan is a collaborative effort between Harrisburg, Susquehanna Township and Lower Paxton Township. HRG Engineers are preparing the plan which is required to be completed by September of 2017. The total effort to improve waterways is a federal mandate. The project in the three municipalities involves 50 miles of streams. Government grants will cover some of the cost of design and construction of the stream bank repairs. Owners of land along the streams have and will be made aware of the need to continue to protect the steam banks.

Friendship Center Township manager George Wolfe presented the 2016 budget report for the township’s Friendship Center. It anticipated only slightly higher revenues and expenditures than in 2015. He also stated that there were some increase in memberships and that several interior construction and repair projects were planned.

Linglestown Road Project – Resolution #15-27 Amendment G to the township’s agreement with PennDOT for this long term road project covering the final expenses due the township including for property acquisitions was approved.

2015 Stormwater Project Change Order #1 in the amount of $10,615.00 for additional work on the repair of water lines was approved. The exact scope of the project was not known until the work was begun so the contract contained unit prices for the additional work. The township engineers monitored the work and verified the amount of the payment.

Hazard Mitigation Plan – Resolution #15-28 This resolution accepting the Dauphin County 2015 Hazard Mitigation Plan as the township’s official Hazard Mitigation Plan was approved.

Stray Winds Farm – Resolution #15-23 The final subdivision plan for Phase 2 of this housing project had been approved with minor conditions by the county and the township Planning Commission. With assurances that the additional required conditions will be met the supervisors voted to approve the plan.

Mary E. Smith Estate The board considered action on the second amendment to the Declaration of Restrictive Covenant for Lots 1, 2, and 3 in the final subdivision for the Mary E. Smith Estate. The property involved is the vacant parcel on the north side of Linglestown Road, east of Colonial Road, between the Weis Market and the Dunkin’ Donuts store. Solicitor Steven Stine declared that there were no legal problems regarding the development of the property including the location of vehicular access from Linglestown Road. The board voted to approve the amendment.