SWAN Newsletter #126
November 15, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment At the October 18th supervisors meeting, a homeowner on Wyoming Avenue raised a concern about residents allowing their children to play basketball on the street when traffic is coming through. The supervisors responded that except for police patrols, the township cannot control residents’ actions and recommended that the citizen contact the Dauphin County Children & Youth Services Department. At this meeting the resident reported that several township code officers and officials had contacted him and made a report, but that he had not contacted the county. The township’s response was that they will make a further investigation but the resident was again urged to contact the county and recommended that sending them pictures of the situation should speed their response.
Another citizen complained that the television coverage of the meetings was not always good and at the recent meeting there was no coverage. Chairman William Hornung responded that the television had simply failed at that meeting and that they have budgeted money for improvements to the meeting room’s television and sound systems next year.
Chairman & Board Members’ Comments They reported that with the opening of the new Giant store on Devonshire Road that company made a monetary contribution to the township to help with their projects. The Friendship Center Board had reported that they will need to raise some funds to pay for the completion of the interior improvements at the building. They mentioned that the Veterans Day celebration was held at Heroes Grove and money is being sought to complete that project, with a removable roof for the stage. Hoffman Ford is planting trees at Heroes Grove in exchange for not being required to plant them as part of their showroom expansion project. The supervisors stated that the current newsletter will contain a response to the media item concerning free meals provided to the supervisors at some of their meetings.
Draft 2017 Township Budgets Township Manager George Wolfe presented final drafts of the township’s budgets for 2017. The various budgets include those for the Authority, the General Fund, the Liquid Fuels Fund, the Fire Equipment Capital Fund, the Fireman’s Length of Service Award Program, and the Friendship Operating Fund. He noted that for the next year there was no plan to raise the real estate tax rate. Over two million dollars is planned for new fire equipment, and major expenditures will continue for the many storm water improvement projects and roadway paving repairs. He said that this was a final draft of the budget and some changes could still be made.
Guidelines For Public Comment – Resolution #16-40 At their previous week’s workshop session, the supervisors had discussed whether or not to establish rules for the public comment period allowed at the beginning of each business meeting as some other municipalities do. At this meeting they reviewed the rules they had proposed and voted to adopt them. A copy of the new rules will be available in the near future after they are formally signed into law by the township manager.
Police Officers Mr. Wolfe reviewed the proposed collective bargaining agreement between the township and its police officers that needed to be acted on before the end of the year. The union has already approved it. It calls for increases of 2.5% in 2017, 2.6% in 2018 and 2.7% in 2019. The board approved the agreement.
Public Works Mr. Wolfe reviewed the proposed agreement between the township and its public works employees represented by AFSCME. The supervisors voted to approve the agreement.
R-1 Zoning District – Ordinance #16-04 This ordinance change was proposed by an engineer representing the Devonshire United Brethren Church located on the north side of Devonshire Road at the intersection with Devonshire Heights Road. The proposed change would redefine and regulate Institutional/Semi-Public Uses in the R-1 Low Density Residential District. The church has acquired several adjacent properties on the west side of the existing building and has extensive plans to build a large parking lot and a new large recreation center building on that land. The church met with a number of adjoining property owners a year ago and they had no objections to the proposed project.
A formal public hearing presided over by solicitor Steven Stine was begun. An attorney representing the church presented the proposed change to the zoning ordinance. The change would accommodate this church’s plan for much more impervious coverage than is now allowed in an R-1 zone. Several citizens stated that if the ordinance was approved it would allow similar plans anywhere in the township. They proposed that the church request a variance for this one situation instead of a change to the ordinance. The applicant agreed with that suggestion.
Public Works Building Change Orders There were three change orders to be acted on involving the construction project underway expanding the township’s building on the south side of Locust Lane just west of the VoTech school. Change Order No. 3 to the contract with eciConstruction, LLC was to add $9,484.00 for translucent windows on the east side of the addition. Change Order No. 2 to the contract with Lecce Electric, Inc. was to add $25,460.00 for the addition of long stretches of two four inch underground ducts that had been an omission in the original bidding. Change Order No. 3 to the contract with Frey Lutz, Corp. was to add $2,436.00 for the addition of electrical boxes. The board approved the three change orders.
Sanitary Sewer The township received bids for a contractor to be available for sanitary sewer emergency services. Of the four bidders, Rogele Inc. submitted the best unit price bid and the supervisors voted to award them the contract.
Motorcycles The township opened bids for two law enforcement motorcycles. They were low mileage used cycles and with the trade in the net cost was $28,000.00. The board approved the purchase.
Settlement Agreement Township solicitor Steven Stine requested that the board take action on a settlement agreement and release in the civil action filed by Antonio Watson v. Witmer, et al. The matter involved an alleged false arrest. The supervisors voted to approve the settlement agreement.
Amber Fields – Resolution #16-39 This resolution was for public acceptance of a portion of Camden Drive and of Shea Lane in the Amber Fields housing development on the south side of Devonshire Heights Road. The board approved the resolution.
November 22, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
2017 Authority Budget Sewer Department Director William Weaver gave the authority members a review of the authority’s budget for the next year. It contained a slight increase in the expenditures over this year’s. He reviewed the many ongoing sewer projects and some future ones. He noted that the Mountain Road project north from I-81 is almost complete and that the township will need to reimburse PennDOT for some of the cost of that project.
Sewer Rates – Resolution #16-14 With all the sewer projects underway and those the state is requiring, Mr. Weaver indicated that a small increase in the sewer rates from residents and businesses would be required. The authority approved the resolution authorizing the increase.
Engineering Services Agreement An officer with township engineers HRG presented a proposed agreement with the township for services in 2017. He outlined the agreement which called for a small overall increase over the 2016 rates of approximately 2.6% with a guaranteed ceiling of 3%. The authority approved the agreement.
Mengel Property – Resolution #16-15 The authority took action to approve the agreement of sale for the purchase of this property. They also authorized township manager George Wolfe to execute the settlement documents on the property.
Second Consent Decree Projects The engineers reviewed the many construction projects that are underway and noted the ones that have recently been completed. They included the projects on Allentown Boulevard, Jonestown Road, Mountain Road, Devonshire Road and others. They also noted that the Earl Drive project required by the government will be starting in the spring.
CFA Grant Application Trunk A The engineers reported that they will be submitting an application package for this government grant and they expect an approval to come by the time of the authority’s March meeting.
Engineers Report Their lengthy report mentioned other projects in addition to those noted above that either are in the initial planning stage or are on the list for the future twelve years and beyond. They include the Forest Hills sewer project, work on the Paxton Creek and Beaver Creek mini-basins, and the probable need for the construction of large sewer storage tanks for both mini-basins. Swatara Township will probably be sharing the cost for some of that work.
Fill from sewer projects continues to be deposited at the future Wolfersberger Park site on Wenrich Street to create flat areas for the planned play fields. This work has saved the township considerable money because it has kept the contractors from having to truck the fill to locations outside of the township. The contractors are looking for other possible dumping sites in the next couple months to use when the park has all the fill they need for the fields.
December 1, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
6004 Linglestown Road – Docket #1389 The new owner of the house at this location is planning to open an antique shop in the building which is on the north side of the road two doors east of the square. Commercial use is allowed in the Village zoning district. The zoning ordinance would require eleven off street parking spaces for this business, but there is room for only one parking space on the site and that is at the rear of the narrow property.
The applicant requested relief from the parking requirement. He stated that there are sufficient on-street customer parking spaces within 300 feet of the store and there is a municipal parking lot for store employees within 500 feet of the store. The board noted that the on-street spaces are never close to being full and the size of the business would never need more than a few customer parking spaces. The board voted to approve the request.
5510 Allentown Boulevard – Docket #1340 Representatives from Lemar Advertising Company, representing the owner of Mid-Atlantic Auto Recovery Service, Inc. at this location, requested approval for the removal of an existing billboard sign on the company’s property and to replace it with a new smaller electrified sign at a different location on the property. The 1.4 acre property is on the north side of Allentown Boulevard and east of Johnson Street. The existing sign is 45 feet back from the boulevard’s north boundary line.
The applicant’s representative stated that the proposed new sign would be thirty feet high, which is shorter than their existing sign, and will have an electronic changeable message face on both sides. They said that there would be an agreement with the State Police that they can put Amber Alert messages on both sides of the sign to alert motorists of any nearby traffic incident or other emergency situation. The map they provided indicated the proposed location of the sign on the property but there was a concern from the board members that the sign was going to possibly be too close to the highway. The applicant responded that they were not locked in to that exact location for the sign and they would consider having it moved back somewhat farther from the location that is shown on the plan. With the uncertainty of the sign location the board voted to table the issue until their next meeting which is scheduled for January 5, 2017.
December 6, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Collective Bargaining Agreements The board voted to approve proposed agreements with AFSCME, the township’s employees’ labor union for the Police Department and the Public Works Department. The three year contracts for the two departments included 2.5% pay increases each year. The custodians’ labor contract which includes some part time employees will be acted on at the next supervisors’ meeting.
Wolfersberger Park The front part of this land has become a fill site and in the future will be developed into a township park. The back 39 acres has been leased for some years by three individuals and is a paintball game location. The ownership of the company that leases the land has changed where one individual has bought out the other two partners. They have been paying $850 a month to lease the property. A new agreement was prepared for the one person who will be leasing the land with a monthly rental fee of $900 a month. The board approved the agreement.
Public Works Building At previous meetings the supervisors approved add Change Orders Nos. 1, 2 and 3 for the building expansion project covering needed general and electrical work that was not in the original contracts. At this meeting the board approved two deduct change orders to the general contract with eciConstruction, LLC. One was for a savings of $1,948.00 for a change in the windows that were in the original contract and the other one was for a savings of $3,000.00 for a change in the number of coats of paint required on the interior of the building.
Pennsy Supply, Inc. The supervisors approved Change Order No. 2 to their 2016 street paving project contract. The change order was a deduction of $85,664.00, the result of the final cost of the year’s salaries and materials being below the engineers’ initial estimates.
TASERS The township requested bids for thirty TASERS for use by the police department officers. This item has become an important piece of equipment for police officers when they encounter dangerous situations. The word TASERS is the name of the company and has become the name of the piece of equipment. The township requested bids from other companies but no other company makes this special item. The bid received from the company was $65,203.00. Public Safety Director David Spotts recommended that the officers have these for their protection. He said some officers have already been trained to use them and all officers will be trained and certified. The supervisors approved the purchase.
Constellation Energy The board considered a proposal from the Constellation Energy Company, through the PLM Municipal United Alliance, to provide electricity to the township’s facilities. Township manager George Wolfe reported that his research indicated that this company’s bid was the best available. It was for a fixed price of $125,000.00 for the next 47 months. The board voted to approve the contract.
Humane Society The township’s 2017 Municipal Domestic Animal Protective Service Agreement with the society was in line for renewal. This covers their dealing with stray dogs and certain other animals. The cost to the township for the year would be $2,680.00, the same as for 2016. The supervisors voted to approve the agreement.
Fireman’s Relief Association The agreements between the township and its Fireman’s Relief Association regarding reimbursement of funds toward the purchase of fire trucks were reviewed. Each of the three companies is purchasing a new fire truck and the total cost for the three will be approximately $2,400,000.00. The township is contributing $100,000.00 to each company to help pay for the purchases. The three trucks are scheduled to be finished in late 2017 or early 2018.
December 7, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS AND RECREATION BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Park Updates The Parks and Recreation Department director gave the board an update on some of the park projects. At Heroes Grove, the portable cover for the stage is being made. Personalized pavers at the amphitheater can be purchased. Trees donated by Hoffman Ford will be planted at the grove. Construction work has been done on the baseball dugouts at Brightbill Park. At Koons Park, playground equipment has been ordered and the roof has finally been built on the building behind home plate at the softball field. The planned construction of the permanent concession stand that CASA, the soccer organization, is planning to build between Ranger Field and George Park has been put on hold.
Ordinances and Fees At a supervisors’ meeting some time ago, representatives from the Parks and Recreation Board stated their problem with the establishing of extensive park regulations and asked for directions from the supervisors. In response, the supervisors requested that the P&R board prepare their recommendations, since they were more familiar with the issues, and present them to the supervisors for their consideration. The P&R board has been working hard to develop their proposed set of regulations, but it is a very complicated matter and they have not yet been able to make much headway.
At this meeting a long discussion was held on their continuing work with this effort. They reviewed their recommendations on revisions to the township’s Merchandising and Signs Ordinance as it relates to the parks. Among the extensive list of questions were:
- What fees should be paid by sports organizations to use the parks?
- Should fees be required from non-profit organizations as well as from for-profit organizations?
- Should any sale of merchandise by sports organizations be allowed in the parks?
- What temporary or permanent signage by organizations using the parks should be allowed?
- Should there be different fees for township organizations than for outside organizations?
- Should any vendors be allowed at the parks during sporting events?
They agreed that the department director should finalize the many new forms she has outlined that are needed for the scheduling of sports and other events and the reserving of pavilions at the parks. They asked that she also identify the proposed changes to the township ordinances that the supervisors would need to make to legalize the proposed changes. The board authorized her to first present these to Township Manager George Wolfe for his consideration.
Tom George The board noted the passing on December 5 of this long time board member. He was in his early nineties. Mr. George was a very active civic leader in the township starting after his service in World War 2. He had landed his glider full of troops behind Normandy on D-Day and he had fought and survived the war in Europe. His many years of active service to the township were recognized by the naming of the large township park at Paxtonia as George Park.
December 7, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for 2013 Sycamore Drive – Stayton Property The plan moves a lot line on a 1.8-acre, two-lot residential property to add land to a nonconforming lot to make it conform to township regulations. No new construction is planned. The commission recommended approval of the plan.
Preliminary/Final Land Development Plan for Woodspring Suites A four-story, 123 room hotel is proposed on the south side of Chelton Avenue in the Business Campus zoning district located east of Blue Ribbon Avenue and along I-81. The property is located near Noah’s Ark Veterinary Center. The commission recommended approval of the plan.
Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for Running Pump Farm Eric Kessler presented a plan to build three single-family homes on his 91-acre farm property located in the R1 (low density) zoning district north of Linglestown Road on the eastern edge of Linglestown. The plan proposes to combine two existing parcels, and then subdivide one parcel into four lots with three of them to be used for homes for Kessler and his children. No construction is planned at this time.
The township’s consulting engineer pointed out that the building lots are located along an alley, Blackberry Lane, that is not a township street, a situation that does not conform to township regulations.
Kessler said he proposed the plan on advice offered by the township Zoning Hearing Board after they denied his request to build three homes on a single lot. Furthermore, he said the township approved a subdivision in 2003 on his property for a home along Blackberry Lane owned by Dorothy Eyster.
Commissioner Roy Newsome objected to Kessler pushing for homes along the alley when he has a 91-acre property to work with to find building lots. Kessler’s engineer, Jeff Staub of Dauphin Engineering Co., said the alley is the only location on the property with access to utilities.
The commission voted to recommend approval of the plan subject to the township solicitor making a determination on whether Kessler needs to go before the Zoning Hearing Board to seek a variance to locate residential lots on an unincorporated alley. Newsome voted against the motion.
Comprehensive Plan Only one proposal was received for consulting services to assist with updating the township’s comprehensive plan. The commission asked township staff to advertise for a new round of proposals.
December 13, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Paxtonia Fire Company Public Safety Director Davis Spotts reported that this scheduled agenda item involved expenses for a firefighter receiving workers’ compensation coverage. The township had not received any information from council regarding this matter so this agenda item was deleted from any discussion at this meeting.
Volunteer Firefighters Mr. Spotts gave a report regarding PA Act 172 as it relates to tax incentives for volunteer fire fighters. The act, which was just signed by the governor, gives the municipality the option to participate or not, and if they do, to determine what amount of financial help they recommend. The board seemed to favor participating but after a discussion, asked Mr. Spotts to come back with his recommendation as to specifics regarding who should be included, what percentage he thinks would be appropriate, and what would be the estimated cost to the township. He added that the Public Safety Committee and the three fire departments should be involved in the process and there should be public notice and the opportunities for public comments.
Devonshire Memorial Brethren in Christ Church At the November 15th supervisors meeting there was a public hearing where the church’s attorney proposed a township ordinance change. The church is located on the north side of Devonshire Road at the intersection with Devonshire Heights Road. The change would allow the church property, which is in the R-1 Low Density Residential District, to have a much greater impervious coverage, which are the buildings and the parking lot, than the ordinance allows. It was suggested that the church request a variance instead of a text amendment to the ordinance and the church’s representative agreed.
At this meeting the attorney further explained that the church’s property is surrounded by residences and the church is planning to construct a building on the property for a pre-school and a kindergarten program. He said that Dauphin County and the township Planning Commission both approved the appeal of a text amendment to allow the greater impervious coverage on the property. The supervisors asked that the township’s zoning officer and staff work with township manager George Wolfe to recommend whether a text amendment or a zoning change should be considered.
Motorized Recreational Vehicles At the supervisors’ workshop session on November 7 they heard a complaint from a neighbor about a large motor coach being parked on their fairly narrow residential street for an extended period of time causing traffic problems and safety concerns for neighborhood children who sometimes play in the street. The supervisors asked the township manager to research the township ordinances and suggest options for the board to consider. At this meeting Mr. Wolfe reported that there were presently no legal restrictions on parking those vehicles on residential streets but that it would be reasonable to consider amending the ordinance to include some restrictions.
The board agreed that there probably should be some such restrictions and discussed a number of possible options. The parking of motor homes could be prohibited altogether, there could be a limit on the size of the vehicle allowed, there could be a 24 hour or a 48 hour limit on how long the vehicle can be parked when someone is loading for a trip or unloading, and there could be a township permit required for a fee or not. The supervisors asked Mr. Wolfe to consider the options and report back to them on his recommendations.
Blue Ridge Country Club At the November 7 workshop session the supervisors received a presentation on the proposed long term plan for the development of the country club property for a mixed residential use. At this meeting Mr. DiSanto, the co-owner of the property, reported that they now have a final agreement of sale on the property and are moving ahead with the planning of the project. A representative for him gave another thorough presentation on the plan which includes a small commercial area in the front including a restaurant, different levels of senior residential housing from single homes, town homes, apartments, assisted living units, memory care units, and skilled care units. A 30 acre area in part of the rear portion of the property is planned to remain undeveloped and will be a large park area for the residents.
The club property is zoned AR Agricultural Residential and a zoning change would be required. The supervisors have recognized the need for this kind of development to provide a facility in the township for senior housing and they support the concept. Mr. DiSanto has said that with the decline in golfers in the area his Colonial Club to the east will remain open to accommodate players who now play on the Blue Ridge club course.
Heroes Grove – Resolution #16-41 Action on this resolution would authorize the submission of an application for a grant to Pennsylvania DCNR for landscape planning at the new Heroes Grove amphitheater in Brightbill Park. The board voted to approve this resolution.
2017 Township Budgets At the board’s meeting on November 15, Mr. Wolfe presented draft budgets for the various township departments for 2017. At this meeting he gave a final review of those budgets. For the most part the final budgets are unchanged and there are no anticipated tax increases in the coming year. The board will act on approving the budget at their business meeting on December 20.
Reorganization Meeting The supervisors reviewed the vacancies and the appointments to the various township boards and committees. Some vacancies remain. There are no planned personnel changes to the staff, the solicitor or the engineers. At the December 20 meeting the board will take final formal action on new appointments.
December 20, 2016
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment An individual asked the supervisors for help in dealing with a possible landlord problem. The person is transgender and has moved into a township apartment building but now feels his lease might be withdrawn because of his transgender status. The person asked if the township could take any action against the landlord if that should happen. The board, the solicitor and the township manager explained that while the city of Harrisburg as a first class municipality could legally intervene in such a matter the township is a second class municipality and by law has no authority to do so. They said if the problem arises, the township could possibly informally encourage the landlord to reconsider his action.
Manager’s Report Township manager George Wolfe reported that the Department of Environmental Protection has put a drought watch into effect for the region. That request asks residents and businesses to limit water usage as much as possible until the watch is lifted.
2017 Township Budgets – Resolution #16-42 At the previous week’s workshop meeting the board generally agreed, after working on the next year’s budgets for five months, that it was what they wanted. Mr. Wolfe reported that the total cost is approximately $56,000,000.00, not including pension funds and is balanced. It includes state aid of approximately $1,500,000.00. He added that the fire equipment fund will have a deficit for the next few years with the planned purchase of new trucks by each of the three companies. The board gave final approval to the next year’s budget.
2017 Compensation Program – Resolution #16-43 The program for all full time administrative employees including a 2½% cost of living pay increase was approved. This is consistent with action by other municipalities. All other full time and part time township employees are covered by one of the other four bargaining units and they have, all except one, finalized agreements for 2017. The last one will be approved at the first January supervisors’ meeting.
Winfield Street A contract for needed storm sewer improvement work on this street east of Colonial Road was awarded to a company nine months ago. However the work never started and the company defaulted on their contract and their bid bond was surrendered. The project was recently rebid and the three bids received were very close. The low bid was in the amount of $1,374,000.00 and the township engineers recommended awarding the contract to the company that was the low bidder. The supervisors voted to award them the contract.
Club Automation The supervisors considered a proposed agreement with this company for licensing and implementation of recreation program scheduling and registration and facility software. The agreement involves the needed upgrading of the software for the web sites for the Friendship Center and the Parks and Recreation Department and adding on line registration. The initial cost for this work is $47,350.00. The board voted to approve this agreement.
Freshpage Media Lower Paxton has been working for some time with this company to prepare an agreement for them to redesign the township’s website. The site has been in need of upgrading for some time in order for it to provide more complete information to the citizens. The project will cost $7,500.00 and it should take about fourteen weeks to complete. The supervisors will be involved in the redesign and they intend to discuss it with the public at a workshop meeting at some point during the process. The supervisors approved the agreement.
New Love in Christ Church This meeting’s agenda included consideration of a lease agreement for parking spaces in the lot adjacent to and owned by the New Love In Christ Church in Paxtonia at 6003 Jonestown Road. This item was removed from this meeting’s agenda.
HRG Engineers A proposed agreement between the township and their engineers for the firm to prepare a landfill industrial permit application was discussed. The agreement would be for them to do the complete analysis required by the government for the proposed sewage treatment plant to be built in conjunction with Swatara Township. The engineers estimated the cost for the application work at $3,200.00. The board agreed to have the application prepared for a figure not to exceed that amount. They directed solicitor Steven Stine to review the agreement before the board approves it.
Stayton Property – Resolution #16-28 The supervisors considered the request by the owner of two adjacent residential lots on Sycamore Drive to relocate the property line between the two lots. The smaller lot is now nonconforming for residential development and by moving the line the smaller lot would be large enough for a house. The county had no objection to the move and the board voted to approve the resolution.