SWAN NEWSLETTER #127
January 3, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Annual Reorganization Meeting
The supervisors took action to elect township officers and to make the following appointments for the 2017 year: William Hornung, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors; Gary Crissman, Vice-Chairman; William Hawk, Township Secretary; William Seeds, Township Treasurer; Robin Lindsey, Township Assistant Secretary/Treasurer; Lowman Henry, Vacancy Board Chairman; George Wolfe, Township Manager; Steven Stine, Township Solicitor; Herbert Rowland & Grubic, Township Engineers; William Seeds and Robin Lindsey, Representative and Alternate to the Capital Region Council of Governments; William Hawk and Robin Lindsey, Voting Delegate and Alternate to PSATS State Convention; and Tim Hough and William Hawk, Representative and Alternate to the Dauphin County Tax Collection Committee. They also voted to establish a Treasurer’s Bond at $1,000,000.00, designate M&T Bank as the Township Depository, establish a Supervisors’ Meeting Schedule for 2017, authorize the township Secretary or Treasurer to pay all fixed expenses which result from prior board action, and approve all Board, Commission and Committee appointments.
Public Accountant – Resolution #17-01 The board voted to retain the accounting firm of Zelenikofske Axelrod LLC to audit the funds and accounts of the township for the 2016 fiscal year.
Emergency Operations Plan – Resolution #17-02 This resolution reaffirming the township’s emergency plan for the 2017 year was approved.
Non-Uniformed Employee Pension Plan – Ordinance #17-01 This ordinance amends the present ASME three collection bargaining pension plans for these employees. The change is that the plans become effective for these employees after three years of service instead of the current five years. The required public hearing on this change was held. The change will result in additional costs to the township but there will be an increase in state aid for the plans. The board approved the ordinance.
Clerks and Custodians The supervisors took action on the collective bargaining agreement with the AFSCME insurance company for these employees. The agreement, the same as the previous one with the Police Officers, called for salary increases of 2.5% in 2017, 2.6% in 2018 and 2.9% in 2019. The supervisors approved the agreement.
Hutch Junk Yard License This facility located at 6861 Blue Ridge Avenue is operated by H&J Salvage Company and its license needs to be renewed yearly by the township. The operation was inspected recently and was determined to be in full compliance with township regulations. The board approved the renewal.
Public Works Building As work on the large addition to this township building on Locust Lane is being completed by eciConstruction, LLC there have been a number of deduct change orders and the total cost of the work has been less than was in the original contract. Change Order No. 6 for a savings of $3,985.00 for electric line repair work was approved by the supervisors.
Friendship Center Township Manager George Wolfe gave the supervisors a report on the exercise equipment at the center. The stationary bikes and the treadmills are leased and some of these which are heavily used have become damaged. He explained that repairing them is very expensive and recommended that there could be a savings if the center enters into a lease/purchase agreement with the manufacturer where after three years the center would own the equipment. The board voted to approve this agreement.
January 4, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Board Reorganization The board voted to reappoint Neal Johnson as chairman and appoint Glenn Hafer as vice chairman for the 2017 year. They also agreed to meet the first Wednesday of each month in 2017 and to have the Friendship Center Operating Board meet the second Monday of each month.
Parks & Recreation Department Ordinances and Fees This matter was the only item on the agenda for this meeting. P&R Department director Terry Bauknight began the continuing detailed discussion on amending the township’s ordinance regarding uses of the parks. A main concern has been signage. In previous meetings, the P&R board had considered revising the ordinance to establish better regulations on controlling the different kinds of signage that have begun to appear in the parks. Scoreboards have some signage indicating what company contributed to the cost of the boards. Companies and sports organizations that have constructed dugouts, storage buildings and other improvements have some signage, and small temporary signs are put up by sports leagues during different seasons.
P&R board members had gone to the supervisors’ meeting months ago to ask them for help in establishing guidelines for signage and to discuss other questions about park restrictions. The supervisors’ response was to direct the P&R Board to develop their best ideas of recommendations and present them to the supervisors. In response, Ms Bauknight has developed an extensive set of proposed regulations for the P&R board to consider and the board has been reviewing those and trying to agree on the best set of recommendations.
The current plan is to prepare the full set of recommendations and have Township Manager George Wolfe review them before presenting them to the supervisors. It had been planned that they would go to the supervisors’ workshop meeting on January 10th, but they could not be ready for that so they now plan to work toward doing that on February the 14th.
January 4, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Commissioner Steve Libhart was absent.
Reorganization The commission reappointed Fred Lighty as chairman and Steve Libhart as vice chairman.
Revised Preliminary Subdivision Plan for Phase 9 of Stray Winds Farm Triple Crown Corporation (TCC) was seeking approval for a 55-acre section of its Stray Winds Farm development for 62 housing units, down from 136 senior-housing units in the original preliminary plan.
Several commissioners questioned TCC’s engineer about the elimination of a clubhouse and pool that were shown in the original plan. Mark DiSanto, TCC president, explained that the amenities were dropped after the number of housing units for this phase had to be lowered due to a court decision that threw out a variance to allow the original 136 units.
The plan was recommended for approval.
Final Subdivision Plan for Amber Fields Phases VIIIB & VIIIC This phase is for 13-acre section of the Amber Fields housing development south of Devonshire Heights Road and west of Nyes Road. The plan has about 32 building lots in the Residential Cluster zoning district. The plan was recommended for approval with no discussion.
Comprehensive Plan The commissioners continued a discussion about how to approach hiring a consultant to assist with revising the township’s comprehensive plan after only one firm responded to the township’s request for proposal (RFP). Township Codes Officer Nick Gehret had contacted the five firms that expressed interest in the project and identified a second firm that wanted to submit a proposal. The commission decided to reissue the RFP and interview the applicants during the commission’s meeting on Feb. 1, 2017.
January 5, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Reorganization Meeting The board elected David Dowling as Chairman, Allan Hansen as Vice-Chairman and James Turner as Solicitor for the 2017 year. They also approved the dates and times for the monthly meetings.
Lamar Advertising – Docket #1340 At the December 1, 2016 board meeting representatives from this company presented a proposal to replace an existing outdoor sign at 5510 Allentown Boulevard with a new sign at a different location on the property. The signage is on the property for the Mid Atlantic Auto Recovery Servicer, Inc. The property is in the CG, Commercial General zoning district. At that meeting there were only two Zoning Hearing Board members present so final action on the request had to be postponed until this January meeting.
At this meeting the full board was present and the Lamar Advertising representative repeated his presentation. He also stated that the Swartz Supply Company on the adjacent property nearest the location of the new sign had no objections to it. He also noted that since the sign was along a state road he would need both state and local government approvals for it. He expected that those approvals could be gotten by March or April of this year.
Several board members raised concerns about the repeated appeals for variances from the sign ordinance in recent years. However they made no suggestions that the current ordinance needed to be changed. The board then voted to approve this request.
Family Practice Center – Docket #1391 This large doctors’ primary care office, Londonderry Medical Associates, is located at 4830 Londonderry Road several blocks east of the Osteopathic Hospital. Their appeal before the board was to be allowed to replace the current freestanding two sided sign in front of the building with a similar but an internal illuminated sign about the same size as the existing sign at the same location in front of their building. They plan to remodel their building and hire three new physicians and said they needed a better sign identifying the building.
The only concern the board had was that since the building is in a residential area the lighted sign might disturb the neighbors. The doctor said that to accommodate working patients who wanted to schedule early morning or evening appointments, they would like to have the sign lighted during those hours. It was agreed with the doctor that the sign could be lighted from seven in the morning until seven in the evening. The board approved the application.
January 10, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Wheel Loader The township has two large Volvo wheel loaders that they use for winter snow plowing and salting. One of them is over ten years old and needs to be replaced. Township manager George Wolfe recommended to the board that they consider entering into a lease/purchase agreement with the National Joint Powers Purchasing Agency to trade in the old loader and replace it with a new one. The company that makes them has them in stock and purchasing it through the purchasing agency would save the township quite a bit of money. The payments would not have to start until the beginning of 2018. The board looked favorably on the plan and asked that action on the proposal be put on the agenda for the next business meeting.
Blue Ridge Country Club At several recent meetings, Triple Crown Corporation’s John DeSanto and a developer have presented proposed plans for the country club property to become a mixed residential and commercial development. They said that the golf course will be closed, the location is good for development, and it is clear that the supervisors are interested in developing a senior citizen community somewhere in the township.
The developer had presented proposed plans which called for a small commercial area along Linglestown Road, areas of multistory housing buildings and townhomes, individual houses, assisted living units, memory care units and skilled care units. The plans show that the rear thirty two acres of the land behind the buildings would be a developed park with a large open higher area behind for hiking. He has continued to present more developed plans and photos at recent meetings. At this meeting he presented yet another series of pictures showing more details of the proposed development.
A long discussion allowed the supervisors to present their thoughts and concerns on the plans including their questions and suggestions. The proposal would require changing the zoning of different portions from the current AR Agricultural Residential to Institutional or other designations. The supervisors were particularly concerned about being able to do the rezoning in a way to control what is finally proposed after the zoning is changed. Their final decision at this meeting was to go ahead and start the process by presenting the proposal to the township’s Planning Commission for their consideration.
Devonshire Memorial Brethren in Christ Church This church’s plan to build a separate building on their property on Devonshire Road for their pre-school and kindergarten programs has been discussed at several previous meetings. At this meeting the church’s engineer, Tim Melott, again discussed how to handle the zoning problem. The property is located in the R-1Low Density Residential zoning district.
After Mr. Wolfe reported that the township, in reviewing this matter, had looked at sixteen similar church properties in the township, he stated his recommendation that the church should apply for a Special Exception to the zoning ordinance. He added that because of the storm water problems on that and neighboring properties that matter will also need to be addressed in future meetings.
Motorized Recreational Vehicles At the December workshop meeting, the supervisors discussed how to prepare an ordinance to regulate the parking of these large vehicles on the township streets. This mostly occurs in residential neighborhoods. After a long discussion addressing many options and concerns, the board asked Mr. Wolfe to make a recommendation to be considered at next meeting on what legal limitations should be made. At this meeting he gave the board a detailed report. From this, the board had to try to make decisions on how to construct the ordinance.
The major concerns were how to avoid the large parked vehicles from interfering with the sight distances of vehicles driving the street and partly blocking the traffic lanes, from being unsightly for the neighbors, from blocking street signs, etc. They noted that where the vehicles become the temporary home for out of town guests the vehicle may need to be connected to water, electric and even sewer lines from the house in front of which they are parked.
The board discussed the need to include in the ordinance regulations regarding a number of limitations and they needed to define exactly which vehicles fall into that category. When they are able to decide on all the specifics, the new ordinance they create would have to be advertised and a public hearing would need to be held before it can become law.
Sewage Facilities Plan Homes in the Blue Mountain Parkway area north of Linglestown Road are having some problems with their wells and on-site sewage systems. Act 537 requires that a study be made to address the problems. In lieu of having to extend water and sewer lines to the area, the Department of Environmental Protection could allow the installation of wells and on site tanks to retain the sewage which would then be pumped out regularly. The township is required to submit a draft to DEP stating how they plan to deal with the problem. They said that would be presented to the board for review in March or April.
Storm Water Action Permits The township needs to submit applications to the county for new 2018 NPDES MS4 permits. HRG engineers will prepare and send the applications. They regard how the township plans to deal with the new requirements from the government for projects to control the extensive storm water runoff into all the local streams. The report is that stream bank erosion has already caused serious pollution of Wildwood Lake which overflows into the river.
January 17, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Manager’s Report Township Manager George Wolfe announced that his long time secretary, Maureen Heberle, was resigning her position as of the end of the month after dedicated service to the township going back many years. The supervisors joined in thanking her for her service and many citizens including this writer (Watson Fisher) benefited from her many years of faithful work. Her replacement, who has worked for the township for ten years, will take over the position at the beginning of February.
Zoning Hearing Board The supervisors planned to take action at this meeting on naming an appointment to fill a vacancy on the Zoning Hearing Board but reconsidered. They discussed how appointments are made and agreed that instead of the zoning board approving new board members, the supervisors will now interview and select them. They plan to make a new appointment to that board at their first business meeting in February.
Wheel Loader At the previous week’s workshop session the supervisors discussed the lease/purchase agreement for this large Volvo snow plowing vehicle to replace the old one which can’t continue to be used. The cost would be $137,000.00 and payments for it would not start until 2018. At this meeting they voted to approve the purchase.
Friendship Center J.C. Orr & Son, Inc. are one of the contractors working on interior remodeling work at the center. They submitted Change Order No. 1 to their contract in the amount of $51,891.00 for aluminum entrances and glazing which were not in their original contract. A decision was made not to purchase louvers which were previously being considered. The architect and the staff recommended approval of the change order and the supervisors voted to approve it.
Sanitary Sewer Project Bids were received for the PC-4A sanitary sewer mini-basin project. The project involves replacing public and private sewer lines in the Paxton Creek mini-basin as required by the Department of Environmental Protection. The low bid for the project was $1,495,697.00 which was $300,000 less than the engineers’ estimate. The supervisors voted to approve the contract.
Frey Lutz Corporation This company is doing the plumbing work on the addition to the Public Works building on Locust Lane. They submitted Change Order No. 3 to their contract in the amount of $859.00 to relocate the large heater in the office area. The board approved the change order.
David and Deborah Garland – Resolution #17-01 The Garlands had previously subdivided a 1.2 acre property at 2020 Parkway West, which is a road going north from Linglestown Road opposite the Colonial Country Club, into two lots. This resolution was a Declaration of Consolidation requesting to have the two properties returned to be a single property. The supervisors voted to approve the resolution.
Woodspring Suites – Resolution #16-31 The board reviewed a plan for the construction of a four story hotel to be located near the intersection of North Blue Ribbon Avenue and Chelton Avenue just north of I-81 and east of Mountain Road. There have been storm water problems in the area so the plan needs to properly deal with that issue. No traffic study is required. HRG Engineers and the Planning Commission have approved the plan and the supervisors voted to approve it.
Stray Winds Farm – Resolution #16-30 The board reviewed the revised preliminary plan for Phase 9 of the new housing project under construction by Ryan Homes on both sides of McIntosh Road. This phase contains 57 of the total 128 residential lots in the development. The township engineers and the authority approved the plan and the supervisors voted to give it final approval.
Right of Way – Resolution #17-03 John Gamaldi offered the township a right-of-way on his property. The board approved the accepting of the right-of-way for dedication on his preliminary/final subdivision plan for his property.
January 26, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Vanguard Realty Group – Docket #1392 At their September 22, 2016 meeting the board considered a request from Eric Kessler, president of this company, for a variance from the zoning ordinance to be allowed to construct three single family homes on his approximately 90 acre farm land. The large farm property is identified as 6220 Linglestown Road. It is located at the east end of Linglestown on the north side of Linglestown Road in the R-1 Low Density Residential zoning district. The ordinance allows only one home to be built on an R-1 property. At that meeting the board denied Mr. Kessler’s request to build three homes on the property and suggested that he consider subdividing the property to create three small lots for the three houses.
At this follow up meeting Mr. Kessler presented an alternate proposal. He showed the board a plan his engineer prepared showing two houses he would build for his two children on lots fronting on Blackberry Alley and the one house he would build for himself and his wife on the farm property. However, the ordinance requires the two children’s houses to be built on lots that abut a public street and Blackberry Alley is not a public street. Neighbors at this meeting confirmed that the alley is very narrow and in disrepair. There was a long discussion including testimony from neighbors with concerns about building more houses that would be accessible only from the alley as well as the problem of fire trucks and emergency medical service vehicles not being able to maneuver the alley. The board agreed with this concern.
At that point Mr. Kessler expressed his preference to have the three houses located on the farm property as he had originally planned and his willingness to pay to now have the farm property subdivided. He said he would have the engineer prepare a new site plan showing this option. The board agreed that this proposal was the most reasonable solution and stated that they would plan to act on it at their next meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, February 23rd.