SWAN NEWSLETTER #116
January 28, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Annual Reorganization Meeting The board voted to elect Jeffrey Staub as Chairman and Sara Jane Cate as Vice Chairman for 2016. They also elected the Board Secretary and the Zoning Officer and they approved the meeting times and dates for the year.
Beaufort Hunt, Inc. – Docket #1380 This organization located in Mechanicsburg is the owner of a kennel and yard for their hunting hounds on a 2.01 acre property located at 6660 Union Deposit Road. The property is in the AR Agricultural Residential zoning district. Two years ago this board approved a variance to let the kennel operate on a subdivided property that was smaller than that allowed by the ordinance.
The size of their property has now been reduced to 1.99 acres to comply with certain undefined tax regulations. This current request was to allow them to continue to operate the kennel on the slightly smaller property. The adjacent land owners stated that they had no objections to the organization continuing to operate the kennel. The board voted to approve the request.
Martin Schoffstall – Docket #1381 Mr. Schoffstall is the owner of the property at 5940 Linglestown Road. The house on the property was damaged by fire six months ago and will be demolished. He wishes to construct a new building that would house a French bistro serving locally made wines and beers. His plan is to brew a small amount of beer in the basement of the new building to be consumed in the building or sold for takeout. His brewpub would be open from noon until 10 in the evening and would have parking behind the building. The property is in the V-Village Zoning District where the zoning ordinance allows commercial uses including a tavern but not a micro-brewery.
The board considered the unique and diversified character of the village and the fact that several similar operations have previously been allowed. They also recognized the many other similar small varied commercial operations along the main street. They voted to approve his request.
250 South Houcks Road – Docket #1382 The owners of the house at this location are married couple Melanie Grissinger and Mitchell Peters. The single story house located in the ON-Office-Neighborhood zoning district was built in 1947 which predated the zoning requirements. The front of the house aligns with that of the adjoining houses on the street but all of them encroach on the required front yard setback requirement.
The owners want to build a single story side yard addition essentially doubling the size of the house. The front of the addition would align with the front of the existing house so it would be non-conforming but the addition would comply with the side yard and rear yard setback requirements. Their neighbors have no objections to the project and the board approved it.
February 1, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Attendees The committee members attending the meeting included the Public Safety Director, the three Fire Chiefs, the Fire Marshall, the Emergency Medical Services Director and a Police Officer. Also attending were the Township Manager, the Codes Enforcement Officer, the Emergency Operations Center Officer and the Building Inspector.
Fire Company Rosters and Budgets Linglestown Company Chief William Payne and Colonial Company Chief Tom Swank submitted their 2016 budgets and rosters to Public Safety Director David Spotts. Paxtonia Chief Mike Fife said he would mail his company’s budget and roster to Mr. Spotts.
New Fire Equipment The fire chiefs have been working with the supervisors to finalize the plans for the purchase of needed new major pieces of equipment. They each discussed the status of their decision making, regarding what they most needed, what manufacturers could provide the best equipment, and their financial situations, recognizing their available funds and what approximate amount of contributions the supervisors had finally planned to make. It was noted that in two year’s time the equipment costs are expected to increase by 15% making it advisable to finalize their plans quickly.
Committee’s Vision and Scope The new Public Safety Director expressed his understanding that the committee, which includes fire chiefs and officers, the EMS director, the fire marshal and a police officer, and is primarily made up of volunteers, functions to provide effective emergency services for the township. He thanked them for their service and requested that they continue to work together by attending all the meetings, bringing their best suggestions to the table, and continuing to be the leaders in their organizations, in the best interest of the township residents. He noted that there is an increase in violent crimes and that all emergency personnel need to be aware and vigilant.
First Responders Mr. Spotts discussed with the committee the state Act 138 of 2015 that, with township approval, emergency organizations are permitted to conduct boot drives. Those drives are where volunteers can solicit contributions along township streets. He reminded them that if they considered doing this, they would need prior approval from the township.
Township Contributions The chiefs discussed the timing of the regular financial contributions that the township makes to the three fire companies every year. They have been made at different times during the year, when the township has funds available from tax collections. After input from the three chiefs, Mr. Spotts stated that, for now, the timing of the distributions will not change.
Snow Emergency The fire company chiefs reported on the various problems they had during the recent heavy snow storm. A number of situations occurred where emergency vehicles were simply unable to answer calls and snow plows were unable to keep up with the snow. Mr. Wolfe gave an overview of the situation where plow drivers worked extended shifts and smaller plows were unable to deal with the large accumulation of snow. He noted that there are nearly 500 fire hydrants in the township and the plows were not able to clear snow from them all fast enough. Mr. Spotts said there is a limit to what the township could do in an extreme emergency, but they will evaluate the response and consider what could have been done better.
Committee Member Reports South Central Emergency Medical Services Chief Jason Campbell thanked everyone for their help during the snow storm. His organization had 81 calls during that time and only missed being able to reach a very few. Mr. Spotts noted that off duty police and fire personnel volunteered to help residents during the storm. The Emergency Operations Center Officer reported that they are submitting requests to the county, the state and the federal governments for possible disaster funding reimbursement.
February 2, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
The purpose of this special meeting was to have the supervisors come prepared to suggest and discuss their thoughts on what projects they think the township should pursue in the near future. Board chairman William Hornung opened the discussion by observing that, unlike surrounding towns and villages, our township does not have a town center and therefore it lacks a certain sense of community. He asked them to think ahead as to what could be done to maintain and improve the good commercial and residential character of the township. Many suggestions were presented and some concerns were raised. They included the following:
1. Encourage citizens to become involved in the activities and improvement projects in the township. Ask them to consider working on boards and committees and perhaps forming civic organizations to help improve the township.
2. Consider putting up highway signage at each end of Route 22 identifying the entrance to Lower Paxton Township.
3. Recognize the need for building senior housing like Bethany Village and Messiah Village for aging residents who need assisted living so they don’t have to move out of the township to find those facilities.
4. Rezone land and change ordinances where needed to allow for new developments favorable to the long term character of the township. One such location mentioned was the Blue Ridge Country Club property which is zoned AR Agricultural Residential which would not allow a housing development or a commercial use.
5. Continue to develop recreation facilities in the township for future generations. Complete Wolfersberger Park and work on planning for a park in the southeast part of the township to replace the existing Hodges Heights Park which is on a land fill area and will need to be abandoned. Consider other areas that could be reserved for future parks.
6. Consider a stormwater tax which is allowed by the state, similar to the sewer tax, to help fund road maintenance. This could be handled by the existing sewer authority without the need to create a separate storm water authority.
7. Consider charging fees for the use of the Heroes Grove amphitheater by outside groups.
8. Continue the work now underway by the Planning Commission on the thorough upgrading of the township’s Comprehensive Plan. The plan has not been updated in many years.
9. Continue the difficult effort of hiring the most qualified police officers and other township employees. Currently many possible candidates for police positions cannot be considered when they turn out to have problems with security clearances.
10. Work to generate funding from county, state and federal government sources for major road and bridge projects including the new Jonestown Road bridge, Nyes Road improvements and the proposed widening of Linglestown Road through the township.
11. Keep in touch with PennDOT on their plans for the widening of I-83 from Union Deposit Road north to I-81. Some private properties and traffic patterns will be affected. PennDOT has not been forthcoming recently with information about their plans for this project.
12.Pursue the planning for the installation of automated traffic signals along Route 22.
Mr. Hornung asked the supervisors to continue to consider the items that were discussed, to break them down into short term and long term goals, and to try to prioritize them as to their importance for future planning.
February 2, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Hoffman Ford – Conditional Use #16-01 At their January 4th meeting the supervisors held a public hearing regarding the company’s plan to build a repair garage near their new car showroom at 5300 Jonestown Road. A repair garage would only be allowed in the Commercial General zoning district as a conditional use. An attorney, representing the owner of an adjacent property, objected to the conditional use request and the board agreed to postpone their decision until this meeting.
At this meeting, the board again heard testimony from the complainant’s attorney. The board recessed briefly to consult with their solicitor and returned to approve the conditional use request. They expect that the adjacent property owner may continue to contest the matter.
Giant Food Store – Resolution #16-02 This company’s store at 4211 Union Deposit Road in the Point Shopping Center is being remodeled and the company wants to obtain a liquor license for their planned in-store restaurant. If approved, the state license would be transferred from Middle Paxton Township. The supervisors held the required public hearing to act on the transfer.
The applicant’s plan is for the store to sell beer for consumption in the restaurant and sell 6 and 12 packs for takeout. He described their intended policies, to closely control the beer sale and have it interconnected, but operate separate from the grocery store. After the public hearing was concluded, the board voted to approve the license transfer and allow the sale of beer in the store’s restaurant.
Michael F. Ronca & Son, Inc. Change Order No. 1 to this firm’s contract for sanitary sewer work for the BC 4A and 4B mini-basin project was to extend by 62 days the time allowed for substantial completion of the project. The supervisors approved the time extension.
4698 Orchard Street – Resolution #16-10 Action on this resolution would authorize the condemnation of a permanent right-of-way and temporary construction easement for road, storm water, and related improvements at this location. The resolution was approved.
210 North Houcks Road – Resolution #16-11 This resolution was to approve the condemnation of a permanent right-of-way for road, storm water and related improvements at this property. The supervisors approved this resolution.
Lowes Home Improvement Center The board considered action on the Stipulation and Joint Motion for Agreed Upon Order in regard to this company’s real estate tax assessment. Three parties were involved in resolving this matter. The order would make a small change to the amount of the tax assessment and the board voted to approve it.
Police Officers’ Training – Resolution #16-09 Under the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Act, the township will be reimbursed for a small portion of the cost of training new police officers. The supervisors approved the request for this help for the newly hired officers.
PA Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project The township has participated in this training project in the past. It is run by the police department and the township is reimbursed to cover its cost. It will be held in March and the board approved it.
Snow Emergency – Emergency Declaration #16-01 This snow declaration was issued by the Township Manager on the 22nd of January. Crews worked over the weekend to clear 400 lane miles of snow, some two times, using 30 pieces of equipment. The supervisors approved the filing of a request for any government reimbursement to cover some of the cost.
Mione Properties LLC Under subdivision and land development matters, this company requested to be allowed to consolidate three lots into one lot, at 5812 Jonestown Road. The lots are near the Paxton Square Shopping Center. The supervisors were told that the paper streets that had been created on the plan would remain. They approved the request.
February 3, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP GREENWAY COMMITTEE MEETING Reported by Vera Stuchinski
See Parks & Recreation Board report. Since the Greenway Committee has committed all of its budget to the Sidewalk Connections project on Nyes Road, and still more funding is needed, they have no money to use for new initiatives. At the last few meetings I attended, discussion was limited (understandably) and essentially repetitive. For that reason, it seemed sensible to skip their meetings for now, and to just include the Greenway representative’s report to the P&R committee. I’ll attend Greenway meetings again in the spring.
February 3, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS AND RECREATION COMMITTEE MEETINGReported by Vera Stuchinski
Possibility Place – This board will create a subcommittee to oversee Possibility Place, to create a schedule for regular maintenance, and to plan ongoing fund raising efforts. Volunteer groups need to be recruited for painting.
Parks & Recreation Ordinances Signage – The board is looking at naming rights policies that have already been established by area school districts for some guidance in revising & updating the P & R policies.
Board Vacancy/Friendship Center Representative – The township is conducting a search for residents to fill the following vacancies: Arts Council, Friendship Center Operating Board, Greenway Committee, and Parks and Recreation Board.
Arts Council Activities – The Community Dance was rescheduled for this Saturday, due to the blizzard.
Greenway Committee Report – The committee is planning dates for trail maintenance by volunteers. Committee meetings have been changed to the 3rd Wednesday of each month at 5:30.
Heroes Grove – Phase 1 is complete. Opening day is 6/17, and will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Groups have already started reserving the amphitheater. On 5/7, there will be a Rally for the Troops event.
Hurley Fields – The group that uses Hurley Fields will need to be relocated for a short time this spring until the newly laid sod has “taken.”
Other Business – A new P & R brochure has been prepared and is ready for distribution. The position of Parks & Recreation Manager has been filled by Terry Bauknight.
February 3, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for 4920 Jonestown Road The proposed plan calls for the existing building – the Susquehanna Ale House located between M&T Bank and The Tire Mart – to be demolished and replaced with a new building that will house an AT&T Wireless store. The commission unanimously recommended the plan for approval. (Map: http://binged.it/20ePcdx)
Preliminary/Final Subdivision & Land Development Plan for Kimco of Pennsylvania Trust The new owners of the shopping plaza along Jonestown Road with Gander Mountain has been purchased by Kimco Realty, which owns and operates a large portfolio of neighborhood and community shopping centers in North America. Kimco plans to revitalize the plaza’s look and mix of tenants.
The plan carves out two lots that front Jonestown Road, one on the eastern side of the property for a fast food restaurant and the other on the western side where most likely a CVS store will be constructed. The developer is only seeking approval to construct the restaurant pad. Also, street trees will be planted around the perimeter of the entire property and sidewalks will be constructed primarily along Hampton Court Road. The commission unanimously recommended the plan for approval. (Map: http://binged.it/1KvuEvs)
Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for 6305 Allentown Blvd. The plan only adjusts one lot line on a 6.2-acre tract – no new construction or improvements are proposed. The commission unanimously recommended the plan for approval. (Map: http://binged.it/20eTPEr)
Comprehensive Plan Revisions The Planning Commission and staff continued to work on a format for using a computer program to collaboratively edit the current comprehensive plan. They plan to edit chapters 1 and 2 during the next meeting on March 2, 2016.
February 9, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Bond Issue Representatives from the Susquehanna Advisors Group reported to the board that they have finalized everything for the planned sale of bonds to finance upcoming sewer projects in the amount of approximately 29 million dollars. The planned projects include work up to 2033. They stated that they locked in a low interest rate for the bonds, thanks to the township’s good credit rating. The bond sale is scheduled for February 17th. The township will pay off the bonds, over the years, from sewer revenues.
Draft Ordinance Zoning Officer Amanda Zerbe presented a draft ordinance that was prepared to create a vacant blighted property registry. This ordinance would formalize the township’s efforts, in conjunction with the county, in dealing with mostly residential properties abandoned and blighted.
At the present time, there are about 40 houses in the township that are in disrepair and where typically the owners can’t afford to maintain them, pay the mortgage or the taxes, and they just walk away from them. The township then has to secure them and maintain the lot until the legal and financial processes can be worked out. The staff will review the draft, put it in a final form, and conduct a public hearing before it can be approved and become law. Unfortunately, dealing with this problem is an expensive, but necessary, procedure for the township. The recent cooperation with the county will be a major plus.
PA DEP MS4 This short title is the abbreviation for the state inspection project entitled “Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer Systems”. A representative from GHD, the township’s engineers, reviewed the project for the supervisors. The project is underway, where state inspectors are looking to protect water quality by requiring municipalities to control stormwater runoff, river and stream pollution, construction site and agriculture caused pollution, etc.
The state has enacted new requirements. In the past, the main concerns were with water flow, not water quality. That has now changed. Municipalities will be required to have manpower to inspect runoffs, gather water samples after rainfalls, have water samples submitted to labs for analysis, etc. DEP inspectors finished their work in the township and found only a few areas where improvements will be necessary. They will be making thorough inspections every five years. The township is continuing to deal with water quality problems in the Paxton Creek watershed.
Heroes Grove Christeen Hunter, from the engineering firm of H. Edward Black, gave the supervisors an update on the outdoor amphitheater construction project at Brightbill Park. Phase 1 of the project is almost complete and a ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for July 17th. Fund raising was adequate to cover the work to date, which cost in the neighborhood of $760,000.00.
Plans for Phase 2 are to include, among other things, construction of a cover over the stage, on site restrooms and walkways to them, railings, trees and shrubs. The cost for Phase 2 is estimated to be $260,000.00 and the completion date is probably 2018. The plans for this phase will be reviewed by the township’s Parks & Recreation Board. Fundraising efforts and the applications for government grant money will be underway soon. The supervisors will need to approve the plans for this work. Contributions will be sought and memorial pavers will be sold.
Village of Linglestown Polly Murphy and other residents, who worked endlessly with her on the very successful celebration of the village’s 250th anniversary this past year, attended the meeting. They gave the supervisors their final report and thanked them for their support of the event. They reported that around 250 residents of the small village were involved in the planning and completion of the celebration, and over a period of time, they had raised over $100,000.00 to fund the event. The board in turn thanked them for their tireless work in organizing the celebration and mentioned that next year, the 250th anniversary of the township’s founding will be held and citizens are now organizing to plan a celebration recognizing that milestone.
Dauphin County Community Rating System Township manager George Wolfe reported that the county has initiated a system to monitor the locations prone to flooding and to try to reduce rates for flood insurance. With the township’s help, they will identify areas where flooding has continued to occur. He said that the township has agreed to participate in the program.