SWAN NEWSLETTER #120
May 17, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment A number of residents of Pine Hollow Road and some other citizens spoke regarding the construction project at the township’s Public Works Department property on Locust Lane. There was a complaint that the public hearing regarding the project scheduled for this date was postponed at the last minute with no explanation and with only a notice on the township office door. There were other complaints about the lack of information from the township on the rezoning of the property. Also, township solicitor Steven Stine responded to questions several citizens raised on the legal requirements involving the township’s timing of the public notification of some actions and meetings.
Eric Epstein, chairman of the SWAN citizens’ community action organization, presented information about the group’s involvement regarding township issues. Those included concerns regarding real estate taxes, Route 39 traffic through the township, zoning concerns along route 39 and elsewhere, improvements on web site information regarding township matters and meetings, and questions about township policies. The board responded that they will review some of their policies and try to improve on some of the communication and other issues that were raised by Mr. Epstein and by the other citizens.
Colonial Road At their workshop session in April, the township’s engineering firm HRG presented their recommendations on needed improvements to the Colonial Road intersections with Crums Mill and Devonshire Roads, as well as a block away, with Valley Road and Winfield Street. The board agreed with the need to make the improvements and asked HRG to prepare an estimate of their fees to prepare requests to government agencies for financial help to make the improvements.
The estimate for this work was then supplied, but the board stated that they needed more complete information on how the charges would be calculated and that was done. At this meeting the board asked for an even more detailed line item breakdown with not-to-exceed figures for their work which the consultant’s representative agreed to provide.
Township’s Celebration The nine person committee organizing the township’s 250th anniversary next year, headed by Polly Murphy, were introduced to the supervisors at their workshop meeting the previous week. At this meeting the board voted to make the appointment of those individuals official. The board thanked Polly and the committee for their work.
Legislative Redistricting – Resolution #16-23 At their May 10th workshop session the board discussed the proposed effort to reform the state boundaries of the local legislative district. The long thin district crosses many counties with different mutual concerns and is difficult for state elected officials to easily service the citizens. At this meeting the board voted to officially support the proposed legislation.
Interstate Medians – Resolution #16-24 This resolution is a request for the state to move forward on a safety measure with the installation of more barriers in the medians of divided highways. The Capital Area Council of Governments asked the township to support their effort on this issue and the supervisors voted to do so.
Crossing Guards The supervisors have been considering the proposed agreement with All City Management Services, for them to provide school crossing guards that the township needs to supply for the 2016-2017 school year. Public Safety Director David Spotts reported that communications with the company have been difficult and the details of the agreement have not been finalized. The supervisors are trying to be assured that the agreement addresses all their concerns, including background checks on their guards. They requested that Mr. Spotts arrange for a representative of All City to meet with them in person to finalize the details of the agreement before they act on it.
Township Vehicles The board heard a proposal for the township to lease three 2016 interceptor sedans and one 2016 interceptor utility vehicle from the Ford Motor Credit Company LLC. The overall cost to lease the vehicles and then own them would be $108,000.00. These vehicles would replace existing ones that have outlived their usefulness. The supervisors voted to approve the agreement.
Road Paving Program Bids were received for the extensive road repair work the township planned for this summer and fall. The low bidder was Pennsy Supply Co., whose bid including two alternates was $704,918.00. The engineers’ estimate for the project was $773,000.00. Some of the cost will be supplied from liquid fuel funds. The board awarded the contract to Pennsy Supply.
Public Works Facility The board acted on Change Order #4 to their contract with York Excavating for site work at the township facility on Locust Lane. The changes would be making an extension to the project’s completion date until December and would include some additional fencing and site work. The change order is in the amount of $9,541.00, making the total cost of the site work project $1,142,920.00. The supervisors voted to approve the change order.
Stray Winds Farm – Resolution #16-05 This proposed resolution was to accept the dedication of the land for a small township park in this development, including the release of the lien and the maintenance bond. The board had inspected the new park on their road tour and agreed that the developer should improve the playing field by adding more topsoil and doing subsequent reseeding before it is turned over to the township. As a result the board voted to delay acceptance of the park until those improvements are made.
Lot Consolidation The board took action on the request of the property owner of two adjoining lots at 4601 Goose Valley Road to consolidate them into one lot. The properties are on the south side of the road just east of Elwill Drive. The request was previously approved by the Planning Commission and the supervisors agreed to give it final approval.
Electronic System – Resolution #16-25 In order for PennDOT and the township to communicate electronically on matters concerning upcoming roadway construction projects, they need to have access to each others’ systems. The supervisors voted to approve an inter-municipal agreement for that to happen.
May 18, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP GREENWAY COMMITTEE MEETING Reported by Vera Stuchinski
A potential new member of the committee, Bill Jones, attended this evening. As the general manager of Capital Area Transit, he is personally interested in outdoor activities and would like to be involved with the community. Mr. Jones will be meeting with the Parks & Recreation Board as well.
Stray Winds – Plans will be made to hold a dedication ceremony in the park as soon as the grass and fields are in better shape. More work still needs to be done. The township will provide maintenance for the park, but the home owners’ association will maintain the walking path.
Oak Park Trail – Mr. Chianos, the owner of land on both sides of Locust Lane, is proposing a sale to the township for a walking trail. The intent is to connect several pieces of property to create a walking path from Mateer Field to Lowe’s. (The I-83 improvements are scheduled to begin soon, and they should include a sidewalk with the Megoulas Blvd. overpass.) Ideally, walkers would be able to park at Mateer Field to access the trail. However, walkers would need to cross a property currently owned by an individual who is not interested in allowing a trail on his property. Another option is for walkers to start at Oak Park Circle and walk south towards Locust Lane. Crossing Locust Lane may be an issue. Committee members would like to meet and walk the proposed trail. Of course, the land still needs to be appraised.
Project Priorities – High priority short-term projects are: crosswalk improvements, sidewalk connections, and the Autumn Oaks development. While discussing the need for safer crosswalks, the committee noted that Route 22 is especially dangerous for pedestrians. Many people depend on public transportation to get to the shopping centers, and they should have safe crossing points. The series of 3 stoplights a short distance from each other that start at Devonshire Road, connecting north and south sides of Route 22, are desperately in need of crosswalks.
Long-term projects are trails at George Park, Nyes Run, and Oak Park.
Other Business – The Walking Opportunities brochure will soon be ready.
May 24, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Inspection Services The authority members discussed the appointment of the firm of Navarro & Wright Construction Inspection Services to provide qualified inspectors for the sewer work and street paving work scheduled to be done during the rest of the calendar year. Township engineers GHD currently do not have enough qualified inspectors to cover the planned projects. The authority voted to approve the contract with Navarro & Wright for this year.
Roof Drain The owner of the townhouse at 4805 Lancer Street requested that the authority have the township install a roof drain infiltration bed in the front of her townhouse. She stated that she thought that the township’s recent sewer work in the street had created the situation where in freezing weather, ice forms on her walk creating slippery conditions. The sewer department stated that the owner had signed a hold harmless agreement when the township did the work in the street. The department felt that their work had not caused her problem and recommended that the township should not have to pay to resolve it. The authority agreed and voted to deny her request.
Sewer Work Planning Engineers from GHD made a lengthy detailed presentation on their recommendations for the long term planning for sewer line repairs, replacements and extensions in the township. It centered around two planning options. Option #1 was to continue at the same relatively fast pace that the work has been moving in recent years. They estimated that the planned work would be completed by about the year 2033 and the taxes would need to be increased somewhat to pay for that. Option #2 was to gradually slow the pace of sewer work and extend the completion of the work until around the year 2048. That would not require as much of a periodic tax increase over the years to pay for the work, but with inflation they thought it would not be a significant savings. The board agreed to plan on following Option #1. It was noted that currently the sewer work is somewhat ahead of the long term planned schedule.
They also discussed the possibility of building a waste water treatment plant in the township. Sewer lines now send waste water to treatment plants in neighboring townships and to the city of Harrisburg. They mentioned that there were probably no locations in the township to build an above ground plant and an underground plant would be much more costly. Also considered was building a facility that in the future could store waste water when the neighboring treatment plant, at certain times, may not be able to take the higher loads. A location for that facility would logically be in the south east corner of the township. They noted that they should consider the possibly of acquiring property there before all possible sites are developed.
Creek Drive Sewer Consideration was given to replacing the sewer lines from the houses at 4904 through 4922 on the north side of West Creek Drive in the township. After discussion the authority agreed to begin by getting bids from contractors to do the sewer repair work.
May 26, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
BRM Associates, Inc. – Docket #1385 Attorney Peter Russo on behalf of BRM Associates, Inc., the owner of Hornung’s Hardware and Rental Center, requested a variance to be able to replace the store’s existing free standing road side sign which faces Blue Bird Avenue with a new sign. The new sign would be essentially the same size and be twenty feet high, the same height as the existing one, and would be at just about the same location, but instead it would face Mountain Road, the main road coming from Interstate 81.
The proposed sign would encroach a few feet into the Blue Bird Avenue right-of-way and be near the existing buried sewer line. The applicant agreed to remove the sign at any time in the future if it should interfere with needed repairs to the sewer line. The sign would be lighted internally, which is allowed, and it would only be lighted when the store is open.
During the meeting, a problem was recognized in the township’s required Notice of Public Hearing. The hearing notice correctly states that the property is in the Commercial General CG District, but it says that the maximum height of a ground sign is 20 feet in that district. However, the ordinance states that the maximum height is 10 feet.
The board generally felt that the applicant’s request for the variance was reasonable considering the current sign’s size and location and that other free standing commercial signs in the area were higher than the 10 foot legal limit. However, because of the error in the public notice, the board agreed that it would be better to re-advertise the public hearing with the correct information and act on the request at the next official meeting. Therefore, the variance request will be heard at the next board meeting which is scheduled for June 23rd at 7:00 p.m.
June 1, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Hodges Heights Township supervisors Robin Lindsey and William Hawk met with this board at their meeting on May 4th, as reported in the last SWAN newsletter. They stated that they were unable to find a suitable location nearby for the development of a new park to replace the Hodges Heights Park. That park was built on a land fill area where the ground continues to settle damaging the tennis court and causing other problems. The supervisors indicated that the current plan should be to improve the King’s Crossing Park which is not too far away, located just on the east side of Nyes Road. At that park, there currently is a pavilion and one ball field and room to develop additional play fields.
At this meeting, the P&R board discussed what they might consider doing with the Hodges Heights Park property to keep it available for use by the neighbors. They unofficially suggested that the township could let the pavilion remain, remove the tennis court and leave the area as a grass playground. They said they will continue to explore possible options.
Possibility Place Painting and some repairs are needed at this play facility at George Park. Plans are ready for this work to be done by staff with the help of some volunteers. A local Rotary Club has agreed to help with the repair project scheduled to begin soon.
Signage in Parks A major concern for the board is how to deal with signage and outdoor advertising in the parks, mainly at Koons Park which has a fair number of playfields. Over the years, a small number of temporary signs and posters and permanent signs on scoreboards have been put up by sports organizations using the fields. There are also signs recognizing individuals and groups who have made significant donations for park improvements. Most of all these signs are technically in violation of several township regulations. The regulations refereed to are Chapter 132 of the 1973 township ordinances and township Resolution #95-11.
The Parks and Recreation Department recognized that the introduction of park signage has happened gradually over the years. The board’s question now is what should be done to address the matter. Their long discussion at this meeting revealed the complexity of the situation. The P&R Department handles the yearly reservation by sports organizations to use fields at certain times for practices and games at all the parks for which they pay fees. The fees help pay for the township to maintain the fields. Sometimes those organizations put up small temporary signs which are taken down at the end of the season. Some signage is permanent such as on dugouts and on small storage buildings constructed by the sports organizations and on some scoreboards.
The board discussed that there probably should be new specific regulations set in place to control signage. They asked should there be new regulations for temporary signage including a fee? Should some advertising, temporary or permanent, be allowed for a fee as a fund raiser? If so, should the fee go to the sports organization or to the township? What restrictions should there be on the size and appearance of the signs? What restrictions could be placed at Ranger Field which is not owned by the township but is maintained and used in part by the township? How much additional time will the township staff have to spend to deal with any new regulations?
They agreed that they should be careful with enforcing regulations to the point of hurting the township’s relationship with the many sports organizations. Their plan is to consolidate the policy suggestions that they finally agree on, and then meet with the supervisors to try to finalize the park signage issue. All this could take some time.
Friendship Center The Parks & Recreation Board discussed what they feel is a coming change in their responsibilities. The P&R board has always been responsible for overseeing the work of the Friendship Center Operating Board, with a member or two of the P&R board sitting on the Friendship Center’s board. Now there seems to be an effort for the two boards to act independently from each other, with the P&R Board being responsible for the parks and the Friendship Center Board having total responsibility for the center. The P&R board voted to prepare a letter to township manager George Wolfe formalizing their recommendation with the hope that the supervisors would then consider acting on the proposed plan.
Arts Council Board member Stan Smith chairs the Arts Council and he reported on the council’s upcoming events. He wanted the board to know that information on their events will now be posted on the township’s web site.
Greenway Committee Jim Seidler, who is on this board, and also on the Greenway Committee, filled the board in on the committee’s activities. Along with their other issues they plan continue to work on developing a possible new trail from Matter Field south from the Oak Park Circle to Locust Lane and possibly farther south toward the Osteopathic Hospital.
Communitee Engagement Committee It was announced that this group is planning a 5-K race again this year starting at the Friendship Center. The exact date for the race was not mentioned.
June 1, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Commissioner Doug Grove was absent.
Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for Beaufort Hunt, 6600 Union Deposit Rd. This is a minor adjustment to a plan approved by the township in 2014 to create 1.99-acre and 87-acre lots on a farm property located near the township’s border with South Hanover Township. The revised plan enlarges the smaller lot to 2.01 acres, so the property owner can qualify for a tax break under the state’s Clean and Green program. The commission recommended the plan for approval.
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Infinity Charter School, 5405 Locust Lane The plan calls for constructing an addition to an existing building and doing other renovations for a charter school on a 5.68-acre parcel in the Neighborhood Commercial zoning district. The school is currently located in Penbrook. It serves about 250 students and employs 30 staff members. The plan was tabled because some information still needs to be submitted to the township.
Discussion centered on traffic issues on Locust Lane. The applicant is working with PennDOT to determine if there’s a need for a turning lane in front of the school and potential impacts to the intersection controlled by a traffic light at Locust Lane and Prince Street.
Comprehensive Plan Township manager George Wolfe offered to help the Planning Commission acquire the services of a consulting firm to assist with updating the township’s comprehensive plan. The consulting services will be funded with a $50,000.00 local share gaming grant awarded to the township by Dauphin County. Planning Commission members agreed to provide Wolfe with information to be included in a request for proposal. The project is expected to take 18 months to complete.
Public Comment Tim Murphy, a resident of the Pine Hollow development located next to the township’s public works facility on Locust Lane that is being updated, asked for a re-evaluation of the commission’s decision last month to recommend for approval zoning ordinance amendments and a zoning map change related to the township’s Locust Lane property. He also said the commission reviewed and recommended for approval a development plan for the proposed Dauphin County magisterial district judge court building on Locust Lane in September 2015 despite the property being in the R1 zoning district.
On the proposed district court building, another Pine Hollow resident said photos presented by the Dauphin County Industrial Development Authority last month in support of using the Locust Lane property for the project were misleading. He said, unlike the Locust Lane tract, other locations in Dauphin County have commercial buildings in the area of a court building, and he distributed photos to commission members as evidence.
June 7, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING (meeting #1 of 2 on the same date) Reported by Watson Fisher
Friendship Center Long time member of the center’s operating board, Thomas George, has resigned. He had served the township in many capacities and was a community leader for a great number of years. The supervisors voted to appoint Tom Thomas to serve the remainder of Mr. George’s term on the center’s board. Mr. Thomas also is an active member of the township’s Greenway Committee.
Public Works Facility Two bids were received for a contract to plant a buffer screen as part of the construction project at the township’s facility on Locust Lane. The low bid for this work was received from Davis Landscaping Company in the amount of $53,169.00. The planting is scheduled to be done in the late summer or early fall. The supervisors voted to award the contract to Davis Landscaping.
York Excavating Company This company is under contract to do the site improvements at the Public Works Facility. Change Order #5 to their contract is for additional paving work that would have been needed in the future but can be done now, covered under the unit prices agreed to in the current contract. The change order is in the amount of $7,856.00. The board approved the change order.
Drainage Easement The board was asked to approve the purchase by the township of a permanent drainage easement on the residential property at 4507 Devonshire Road. The property is located across the street from the Northside Elementary School. The landowner would be paid $1,336.00 for the easement. The supervisors voted to approve the purchase.
Key Indicator Report Township Manager George Wolfe presented a detailed report on the township’s revenues and expenditures for 2015. They include taxes, state aid, the various funds including fire equipment, the Friendship Center, the police and other employee pension plans, storm water, sewer and roadway improvement projects. He finished the report by stating that 2015 was a positive year for the township financially after some less than good previous years.
June 7, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING (meeting #2 of 2 on the same date) Reported by Watson Fisher
The only two items on the agenda for this meeting were consideration of proposed ordinances #16-01 and #16-02. These ordinances involved amendments to the township’s zoning ordinance and zoning map for the township property at 5975 Locust Lane. This property contains the township’s Public Works building and storage facilities which are at the rear of the property and previously two ball fields in the open area between the buildings and Locust Lane.
The plan for the work at the site is an addition to the Public Works building, the construction of a township truck wash building, one new township baseball field and backstop, which are now almost completed, and a District Justice office building which will be a county facility and will face Locust Lane on land the county has or will purchase from the township.
Ordinance #16-01 would amend the township’s Zoning Ordinance #06-05 regarding the definition of government facility, other than township-owned. Wording in the ordinance would be added to define what government uses are permitted. Ordinance #16-02 would also amend the township’s Ordinance #06-05 by rezoning the property in question from R-1, Low Density Residential District, to IN, Institutional District, and changing the zoning map accordingly.
At this meeting the township building meeting room was filled with concerned citizens. During the public comment time at the beginning of the meeting, quite a number of the citizens addressed the board. Some of them complained about the fact that there was no notice given to the neighbors before construction work started and that earth moving equipment was very noisy and even caused some damage to at least one adjacent house. All but one of the citizens heard, raised objections to the zoning changes. Their primary concern was the locating of a District Justice office in their residential neighborhood. They felt that bringing people charged with crimes into the DJ’s office was a concern for the safety of the neighbors. They all requested that the board not take any action on the ordinance changes at this meeting. The one citizen supporting the location of the DJ’s office was a retired District Justice who assured the residents that charged individuals brought to the DJ’s office were always under complete restraints and never a danger to residents.
At the completion of the lengthy public comment period, board chairman William Hornung called for a short recess for the board to consult with solicitor Steven Stine. Following that, the supervisors reconvened and voted unanimously to approve both ordinance amendments. Before chairman Hornung asked for a motion from the supervisors to adjourn the meeting he gave a short statement. He told the public that he voted for the amendments because he felt that the Locust Lane property was the right location for the DJ’s office.