SWAN NEWSLETTER #119
May 2, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Fire Truck David Spotts, Public Safety Director, reported on the current status of the purchase of a new fire truck for the Paxtonia Fire Company. After lengthy negotiations, the Board of Supervisors had approved the purchase of a new truck from the Seagrave Company. The final contract for the purchase will be signed by the township manager when all the details of the agreement are finalized.
ISO Fire Insurance Mr. Spotts stated that work on this item involving the three fire companies is in progress but that it will take time for it to be completed.
Fire Apparatus Inventory Mr. Spotts requested that each of the three fire chiefs prepare a detailed listing of their company’s fire equipment. He asked that the information on each item of equipment include the year that the piece was built, its make, model, its total hours of use, its mileage and current condition. This will help him make long term plans regarding equipment replacement. This list should include all equipment, not just the ones the township has helped them purchase.
Members Reports The company chiefs had no reports. The Fire Marshall requested that the chiefs review their software programs so that he can create a central clearing house for all fire reports. Mr. Spotts stated that the Police Department will be in charge of scheduling the dates for resuming task force meetings.
Revere Street The building inspector reported that PennDOT has purchased all but one of the houses on this street, on the west side of I-83, that will need to be demolished before the interstate road widening project is begun. The township or the state may have to go to court to acquire the last one, which the owner has not been willing to sell. PennDOT plans to demolish the houses all at once, but it is possible that before that happens the fire companies could be allowed to use them for training purposes. That would not include putting any of them on fire before they are demolished.
May 3, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Planning Goals At a number of previous workshop meetings the board developed a listing of planning projects they wanted to work on in the coming years and prioritized them by importance, length of time it would take to accomplish, and which ones would need outside help from professionals. This effort ties in with the beginning work by the Planning Commission to finally update the township’s Comprehensive Plan. The township has received a $50,000.00 grant to help with the thorough plan update. The supervisors will meet with the Planning Commission in the next week to further plan this effort.
The main item of discussion at this meeting was that the supervisors will begin to work on studying the possibility of attracting senior citizen housing and care facilities into the township in the future. Their concerns are that seniors are moving out of the township when they need assisted living and long term care because there are no such facilities in the township. The urgency arises because facilities such as Bethany Village and Messiah Village on the west shore require fairly large campuses. They realize that large tracts of open land in Lower Paxton will become scarcer in the not too distant future.
Supervisor Gary Crissman has taken the lead in developing a plan to study this matter. He suggested organizing representatives from the township, the zoning officers, the current land developers and possibly a local hospital administrator to determine what suitable parcels of land might be available and how to begin.
Lower Paxton Township Anniversary Preparations for the 250th year celebration next year of the founding of the township are underway led by Polly Murphy. Volunteers are coming forward to serve on the planning committee under Polly’s leadership and to work on committees for all the planned projects. The draft budget for the celebration project is $40,000.00. Sponsors will be sought to help pay for the event. A committee is being formed to prepare a book. They may consider some kind of event at Heroes Grove. The main event is planned to be a parade with bands from Linglestown to George Park and ending with a ceremony and fireworks. The route of the parade will need to be coordinated by the police department. Polly will be meeting with the supervisors as plans are finalized.
Hodges Heights Park Supervisor Robin Lindsey reported that she had investigated possible land near this existing park where a new park could be built to replace this one, which continues to have unstable earth problems because it is on a land fill. She found that none of the nearby tracts that might be available would probably be suitable for a new park. Her suggestion for the board’s consideration is to further develop the existing Kings Crossing Park which is about a mile away to the northeast from Hodges Heights Park. She said she will discuss this with the Parks and Recreation Board when she meets with them in the near future.
May 3, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Police Department Awards Ceremony Public Safety Director David Spotts presided over the ceremony held every few years to honor members of the department for their exemplary service to the township. He described in detail each man and women’s response to sometimes very extreme and dangerous situations, where quick thinking and appropriate action saved a life or avoided a serious problem or crime. Each officer received an appropriate plaque. The supervisors commended those individuals and the entire department for their continued service to the township.
Public Works Building At last month’s supervisors meeting, the board tabled GHD engineers request for Change Order #1 to their design contract for this project. The approximately $30,000.00 charge was to cover their extra work for the addition of a semi-automatic vehicle wash system in the new building that is being constructed. The board asked for a breakdown of their charge for the extra design work. The board received the needed information and at this meeting they approved the change order.
Storm Sewer Project Bids from contractors were opened for the repair work to the sewer lines in the area of Winfield Street and North Houcks Road. The low bid was from Shilo Paving Company in the amount of approximately $1,895,000.00 with an add alternate of approximately $13,000.00. HRG engineers recommended approval of the contract. The engineers’ initial estimate for the cost of the project was $2,400,000.00. Approximately one half of the cost will be covered by funds from a block grant.
Beaver Creek Pump Station The contract for work at this facility is with Blooming Glen Contractors, Inc. The company requested approval of Change Order #1 to their contract to extend the length of their contract by 53 days. The extension is needed because of a delay in the delivery of a new pump. They confirmed that there would be no increase in the total project cost. The supervisors approved the change order.
May 4, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Ordinances No. 16-01 and 16-02 The commission reviewed proposed zoning ordinance amendments and zoning map changes related to the township’s public works facility located on Locust Lane west of the Dauphin County Technical School. The ongoing project to expand the facility, along with relocating a youth baseball field and the construction of a Dauphin County magisterial district judge court building, has generated complaints from residents in the adjoining Pine Hollow development. Residents have said they were not notified of the project prior to earthmoving equipment beginning work on the site. The township has an exemption from the provisions of the zoning ordinance.
Ordinance 16-01 proposed several changes to make the list of permitted uses in the Institutional District more restrictive. It also proposed a minor change to the minimum setback requirements for buildings in the district.
Ordinance 16-02 proposed three changes to the zoning map to the township’s property on Locust Lane.
Two of the changes proposed designating the lot along Locust Lane for the district judge office and the new baseball field as IN, Institutional District, from the current R1, Low Density Residential District. The change would better reflect the actual and planned uses of the property.
The third change would designate an 8-acre section of the township’s property located south of the Pine Hollow development as R1 from the current IN designation. Township manager George Wolfe said R1 would place the most restrictive zoning district next to Pine Hollow. The 8-acre section is undeveloped and no new development is proposed.
Several residents commented on the proposed zoning changes. Some objected to the changing the 8-acre section to R1 because they don’t want additional homes built in the area in the future. Others objected to the township’s failure to inform them of the improvement project and said the proposed zoning changes should have been considered prior to the start of construction.
The commission unanimously voted to recommend approval of both ordinances with the exception of retaining the current IN zoning designation for the 8-acre section.
The township supervisors will conduct a public hearing on the proposed ordinances on May 17, 2012.
WHTM abc27 filed a report about this meeting at http://bit.ly/1UEZghd .
May 4, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING Reported by Vera Stuchinski
As there was no quorum, the board conducted a discussion session. Supervisors Robin Lindsey and William Hawk attended.
Hodges Heights – Supervisors Hawk and Lindsey informed the board that Hodges Heights is a top priority of the Board of Supervisors. Board members recently looked at the parcel of land along Nyes Road that was offered for sale, and they all agreed that the site is not acceptable. Appropriate land, within walkable distance, is simply not available. The most viable alternative is that Hodges Heights residents use King’s Crossing neighborhood park. It is only a short drive away, and after all, most township residents drive to the township park of their choice.
Koons Park -There was a brief discussion about the porta potty request by some parents of youngsters whose teams play at the park. It has been explained that township parks which are equipped with permanent bathroom facilities are not eligible for installation of porta potties. Adding porta potties to Koons Park would undoubtedly spur similar requests for other township parks, and the cost would become prohibitive.
Paintball Fields Event – The owners of the paintball business contacted Ms. Bauknight (since they are leasing land from the township) to see if there would be any objection to a special event planned for this summer: a late night paintball party with a sleepover. The proprietors would assume liability for accidents. They will have additional staff and will bring in extra porta potties. No alcohol will be allowed.
Possibility Place – Due to the frequent rainy days, it has not been possible to paint. Volunteer work crews will work on days when there are no scheduled activities in the pavilion.
Parks & Recreation Signage Ordinances – Ms. Bauknight suggested that the board might consider having a focus group meeting to come to some final conclusions rather than devoting full board meeting time. Does it make sense to use public property (the parks) to generate money that only benefits private organizations (the teams and their sponsors)? One possibility is for teams that solicit sponsors to contribute a portion of the donation to Parks & Recreation to use for park maintenance. The board should meet with the supervisors to get their input.
Board Vacancies -Three candidates were interviewed by the Friendship Center Operating Board. Each candidate showed interest in more than one board, i.e.,Greenway, Friendship Center, Parks & Recreation. Those who were in on the interviews will meet again to make decisions.
Arts Council: The council is working to develop a web presence. The February dinner dance raised $950.00. Plans are in the works for another such event.
Greenway Committee: An unnamed person has shown interest in selling a parcel of land near Locust Lane for a walking trail.
Community Engagement Committee: Sponsors have been obtained for this summer’s 5K race. The website is up and running. A flyer is being developed.
May 10, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Planning Commission The commission members attended this meeting to discuss the project they agreed to lead, which is to update the township’s Comprehensive Plan. The present plan was adopted in 2003 and it was recommended that it be revised every ten years. Since 2003, there have been many changes made to the zoning and storm water ordinances and other township regulations, therefore, the comp plan needs to be updated to incorporate those changes and other new requirements. The township has received a $50,000.00 grant from the county to help with that effort.
The supervisors explained to the commissioners some of their priorities in the planning process. They want to do what they can to maintain and improve the development of retail businesses along Route 22, including the shopping centers and the Colonial Park Mall. The priorities would be needed zoning changes and new street signage. The other priority discussed was the effort to encourage the development of facilities for senior citizen housing, assisted living and long term care to keep senior residents from having to move out of the township when they age. Other improvement projects discussed were the Linglestown Road corridor, the village of Linglestown, the development of Wolfersberger Park, and the Shadebrook housing development.
It was recognized that this major effort cannot be done by just the township staff and the Planning Commission. The supervisors agreed that it will be necessary to bring a professional consultant on board. The timeframe was set for the combined effort to be completed if possible in a year’s time.
Crossing Guards Public Safety Director David Spotts reviewed for the supervisors the proposed contract with All City Management Services for that company to supply crossing guards to protect students at intersections in the township for the 2016-2017 school year. It was understood that the present guards would be hired by that company.
The supervisors’ main concerns were how would intersections be covered in case of no shows and could the township revoke the agreement if they felt the company, which is headquartered in California, was not providing satisfactory service. He responded what they presently do, if there is a no show, a police officer is assigned to direct traffic at the intersection. He said he would work with the company to include in the agreement specifics on the dollar penalty to the company for no shows and provisions for the township to negate the contract if the township was not satisfied with the service.
Township’s Celebration Polly Murphy has agreed to chair the committee that is organizing the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the township’s founding. She had led last year’s similar celebration in Linglestown. She introduced her nine committee members and reported that the main celebration next year would be on October 14th, with a parade from Linglestown to George Park followed by fireworks. The supervisors thanked her and her committee for planning the celebration and said that the township’s monetary contribution to help with the event would be in their 2017 budget.
Public Works Solicitor Steven Stine presented a proposed agreement between the township and the residents of the Pine Hollow Court development which is adjacent to the township’s Public Works site on Locust Lane. The agreement is in regard to concerns by the residents about the ongoing construction activities at the site by the township and the county. Representatives from the residents group had signed the agreement and at this meeting the supervisors voted to also sign it.
Linglestown Sidewalks Douglas Kepler, speaking on behalf of the residents and businesses along Linglestown Road in the village, discussed concerns for the maintenance of the sidewalks along the road. The sidewalks were built five years ago as part of PennDOT’s road project and the construction of the two traffic circles. The original intent was to have brick sidewalks but that was too expensive, so they settled for concrete with a stamped brick pattern. After a snow storm, salt is spread on the sidewalks by the property owners and in the street by plows, and then splashed up on the sidewalks by truck traffic. If not cleaned off fairly quickly, the salt begins to pit the stamped concrete and continues to cause damage. Mr. Kepler asked if the township could suggest what might be done to address the problem.
The supervisors responded that they couldn’t take responsibility for stopping the problem or replacing property owners’ sidewalks at this one location in the township. They did suggest that they could consider sending a mailing to all property owners in the township advising them of the steps they can take to avoid further damage to their sidewalks in the winter. Mr. Kepler said he would pass that information on to the village’s civic association.
Video Surveillance The board discussed the issue of possibly installing video surveillance cameras at various township properties and facilities. The main locations where vandalism occurs are at park buildings. The estimated cost per camera is $3,000.00. The township has insurance covering some of the cost to repair damage so it was not felt that the cameras would be a necessary investment.
Related to that issue was the continuing problem of tracker trailers going west bound on Linglestown Road causing damage to the two traffic circles in the village. Those intersections were not designed to accommodate big rigs to maneuver. There are signs east of the village saying that big rigs can’t go through the town but they are often ignored. The suggestion was made that cameras might be able to identify the trucks causing the damage, but that was not considered feasible. An effort will be made however to have PennDOT improve the road signage far enough east of the village to discourage most of the big rig traffic.
Capital Area Council of Governments This organization requested that the township consider supporting two resolutions that they are proposing. One is revising the legislative districting which has been gerrymandered over the years. The other was the need to install more barriers in the medians on the interstate highways to reduce fatal accidents. The supervisors voted to support both resolutions.
Real Estate Taxes Some months ago the board voted to negate the penalty charges on four homeowners who for no fault of their own had not received timely real estate tax notices. The board agreed that if they paid their taxes they would be forgiven their penalties. At this meeting Township Manager George Wolfe advised the board to reconsider taking such action in the future citing state law. The supervisors agreed to follow the letter of the law and not vote to forgive such penalties from now on.
Township Investments Mr. Wolfe advised the board of the provisions of Pennsylvania Act 10 of 2016 regarding local governments’ investment vehicles. The act will allow the township to invest funds in high grade commercial paper which will pay a slightly higher return than other permitted investments. He noted that since interest rates are presently very low it would not be a significant change.