SWAN NEWSLETTER #129
February 28, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP AUTHORITY MEETING –Reported by Watson Fisher
Annual Reorganizational Meeting The meeting was held at the offices of GHD Engineering. The first item of business was to elect township officers for 2017. The authority board reelected William Seeds as Chairman, David Blain as Vice Chairman, William Hornung as Secretary, William Hawk as Treasurer, Gary Crissman as Assistant Treasurer, Steven Stine as Solicitor, and GHD Engineering Services as Authority Engineers. They also voted to establish the regular schedule for the authority board meetings for the fourth Tuesdays in May, August, November and February.
Paxton Creek Engineers from GHD and the township’s William Weaver presented updated information on the long term plans being considered for the development of sewage storage options to deal with excess flow. They are working with representatives from Susquehanna Township and engineers from the state Department of Environmental Protection toward an agreeable plan for this project that is scheduled to be done ten years from now.
Beaver Creek The engineers and Mr. Weaver reported that they had held a meeting on February 20th with representatives from Swatara Township regarding possible options in dealing with future overflows in Beaver Creek. They considered a possible inter municipal agreement where the two municipalities would share the cost of a treatment plant and storage facility. The townships need to submit their annual report to DEP in June. The long term plan would include the construction of holding tanks before the year 2027.
Construction Projects The engineers gave the supervisors an update on a number of active sewer projects including ones on Allentown Boulevard and Jonestown Road. And they just received a PennDOT permit to start a project on Wayne Drive, Creek Drive and Topview Drive. Those roads are north of Brightbill Park. They also reported that they are working to replace a broken pipe on the Spring Creek mainline sewer.
Capital Region Water The supervisors reviewed a Draft Inter-Municipal Agreement with CRW and Swatara Township to establish water rates. The engineers told the board that they will work on finalizing a agreement that will keep Lower Paxton’s quarterly payments as low as possible.
Delinquent Accounts The township has contracted the Modern Recovery Company to work on collecting the increasing number of sewer bills that residents have not paid. After repeated notices are sent out with no response the home’s water can be shut off. This, of course, does not work with home owners who have private wells. The company can often work with the homeowners to develop a payment plan which would allow them to avoid having their water shut off. The township will continue to get recommendations from the company on how to deal with that problem.
Engineers’ Report The engineers are developing a report on the needed repair sewer work on Linglestown Road. They will need to get formal approval from PennDOT on the plan before any work can be scheduled.
March 1, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING –Reported by Watson Fisher
Paxtonia Athlete Association Representatives from this organization presented plans to the board for improvements they are proposing to make at Koons Park. At their expense, they want to enlarge the building behind home plate at Michel Jones Memorial Field by adding a third story for a press box. They said that they will hire a contractor to design and build the addition with some help from their association members. They have submitted their plans to the township and with their approval, the project could be completed by the end of March.
The board appreciated the organization’s plans but raised some concerns. The current township ordinances limits what signage can be in the parks and they require organizations to have certain insurances and secure the Planning Commission and other approvals. On first reviewing the organization’s presentation, it appeared that there were some significant conflicts between their plan and the ordinance. This problem will need to be resolved before any construction can begin.
Updated Ordinance Document The board continued their difficult work to do a line by line update of the 1973 township ordinance Chapter 132, Parks and Recreation. P&R Department Manager Terry Bauknight gave a copy of the board’s work to date to Township Manager George Wolfe for his review. Suggested changes to the sign ordinance, including fees for the use of park facilities, will be discussed with the supervisors at their March 21st Workshop Session. The goal is to be able to somehow balance and control the signage and advertizing allowed in the parks and still have revenue from sports organizations and vendors. It was noted that quite a few local municipal parks do not allow any signage. They also agreed to recommend that the ordinance would prohibit the use of alcohol on any park property.
Park Updates Mrs. Bauknight reported that the township will be receiving a $175,000.00 government grant to help pay for complete new flooring at Possibility Place, the children’s playground facility in George Park. In Koons Park, a new open pavilion will be built to replace the old one that has been removed. She also covered the upcoming spring and summer events scheduled at the Heroes Grove amphitheater and at Brightbill Park.
Greenway Committee This committee is developing a large map to show the location of all the sidewalks in the township. They want to use it in deciding where to recommend that new developments require sidewalks, and where the township might consider building sidewalks in existing areas to complete walking loops. They reported that the effort to develop a walking trail south from Oak Park Circle to just north of the Osteopathic Hospital is still on hold due to legal problems with the property owner. They have applied for a grant to provide funds to build a sidewalk along Nyes Road, south from the Paxtonia Elementary School, to the entrance to George Park.
Community Engagement Committee This committee’s current project is to make preparations for this year’s 5K Race at the beginning of the summer. They are soliciting sponsors for this annual fund raising event.
Friendship Center Mrs.Bauknight told the board that they are continuing to look for individual or corporate sponsors to contribute for the planned climbing wall which will be located at the rear of the fitness area in the Friendship Center.
March 1, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING – Reported by Bill Bostic
Commissioner Lori Staub was absent.
Proposed Ordinance 17-04 Devonshire Memorial Church on Devonshire Road, next to Spring Gate Vineyard, has been working with the township to amend the R1 (Residential – Low Density) zoning district to increase the allowable impervious coverage from 40 percent to 60 percent. Previously, the Planning Commission recommended approval of this change that would allow the church to proceed with planning for a community recreation facility to be located next to the church on Devonshire Road. The issue was before the Planning Commission again to review, making a change to the proposed amendment that would require some allowed institutional uses to acquire a special exemption from the township Zoning Hearing Board. Township staff said the proposed changes would have no impact on the R1 district and the commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the ordinance amendment.
Review of proposed changes to Residential Retirement Development (RRD) Overlay Representatives of Triple Crown Corporation reviewed major changes to the RRD overlay that the development company hopes to use to construct a mixed-use community designed to attract persons age 55 and older on what is currently the Blue Ridge golf course on Linglestown Road. Below is a summary of feedback given to Triple Crown:
– Commissioner Doug Grove said the proposal may not provide for enough off-street parking for visitors at townhomes and apartment buildings.
– Commissioner Roy Newsome said the proposed requirements for open space and recreation land and design criteria for housing and streetscapes were good additions. He expressed concerns about a developer customizing an ordinance for a specific development and had issues with the commercial component of the proposal.
– The Dauphin County planning department representative said the proposal needs a public transit component.
– A resident said Triple Crown’s proposed changes to ordinance requirements would result in a multi-generational housing, not exclusively housing for those age 55 and older. The proposal would allow children and teenagers under age 18 to live in dwelling units year-round in some situations.
– SWAN member Shelly Kunkel said she had a problem with a developer offering a text amendment and expressed concern that Triple Crown would deviate from providing housing for older residents based on what happened with its plan for Stray Winds Farm.
– SWAN member Mark Levine expressed concern that parts of the proposed text amendment are customized to Triple Crown’s plans for Blue Ridge golf course.
Triple Crown plans to revise its proposal and discuss it with Planning Commission members during their April meeting.
Proposed Ordinance 17-05 This proposal would amend the zoning ordinance to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to be located in CG (Commercial – General) district and medical marijuana growing and processing facilities to be located in the LI (Light Industrial) district. The Planning Commission recommended approval of the ordinance.
Comprehensive Plan Charlie Schmehl of Urban Research & Development Corporation (URDC) of Bethlehem has accepted a contract to provide consulting services to assist with revising the township’s comprehensive plan. The commissioners want to meet with Schmehl and township staff before URDC begins working on the project.
Meeting Date Change The July 2017 meeting will be rescheduled from July 5 to July 12.
March 7, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING – Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment A lady who had just moved into the township asked for help dealing with feral cats which are animals that are wild and untamed. Her next door neighbor puts food out for them which attracts more cats and the cats then have kittens which makes matters worse. The cats make a nasty mess in her yard, she has allergies to them, and she has grandchildren who play in her yard. She asked the township for help.
The supervisors and the township manager responded that the township has no way at the present time to take action against the neighbor, to take the animals to a shelter, or otherwise deal with her problem. They said that they have someone working on preparing the draft of an ordinance that would allow them to act on this kind of problem, but they can do nothing at this time. Board Chairman William Hornung said he would donate materials to her from his store to try to help her somewhat with the problem for the time being.
Boyd Foundation The board recognized the generous donations and help this organization has given to Lower Paxton Township over the years. This includes the gift to the township of land on the top of Blue Mountain, west of Hocker Park.
Manager’s Report George Wolfe said that the Police Department had gotten a number of applications for them to consider when they need to hire new officers. He also reported on the construction work on Interstate 81, from the Mountain Road Paxtonia interchange west, to the intersection with I-83. The work is expected to go until July to add a third lane both ways and most of the work will be done at night.
New Love in Christ Church The township has had two lease agreements in the past with this church and school, located on the south side of Jonestown Road in Paxtonia, for parking spaces in their parking lot for township athletic events at Ranger Field and at George Park. The board was asked to approve a third agreement. The new charge to the township to use the parking spaces through 2021 is $10,000.00. The supervisors voted to approve this agreement.
Roadway Paving Program The board opened bids last month for the 2017 township’s roadway paving program. Five bids were received and the low bid was from Glenn O. Hawbaker, Inc. in the amount, with the alternate, of approximately $6,400,000.00 That was about $1,000,000.00 below the township’s engineers’ estimate. The board voted to award the contract to that company.
Paxton Creek – Resolution #17-10 The supervisors considered the submissions from four engineering companies to prepare a plan for government required work on Paxton Creek in conjunction with CRW and Susquehanna Township. The low bid was from HRG Engineers in the amount of $1,499,000.00. The cost for the project would be split three ways. The board voted to approve the resolution.
York Excavating, Inc. This company had a contract to do site work on the expansion project at the township’s Public Works facility on Locust Lane. The final change order is No. 6 and is a reduction of $15,653.00 from their contract amount. The board approved the change order.