SWAN NEWSLETTER #131
April 18, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING –Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment At the supervisors meeting on March 7th, a lady complained about her next door neighbor feeding feral cats. She was told that the township can’t legally take any action, but that they were working on the draft of an ordinance change that would allow them to help with the problem. At this meeting several citizens again spoke about the problem and a veterinarian gave professional advice about the cats. The police have become involved and the citizens reported that the humane society has rejected some of the cats. The board said that nothing could be resolved at this meeting, but they would put this on the agenda for their workshop meeting scheduled for May 9th.
Mailbox Replacement Policy – Resolution #17-16 This resolution would change the policy on reimbursing property owners for damage to their mailboxes caused by township snow plows accidently making a direct hit on one of them. Beginning in 2008, the policy was to pay the home owner $50.00 to repair or replace the mail box. Recognizing the current cost of most substantial boxes, this resolution would increase the payment to $100.00. The board approved policy change.
Municipal Records – Resolution #17-15 As allowed by state law, the township can destroy certain records after a specified period of time. At this meeting the board approved the destruction of records regarding some residential properties from the years 2000 to 2010.
Stray Winds Farm – Resolution #17-07 The final subdivision plan for Phases 4 and 9A of this housing project was submitted to the board. The project is located on both sides of McIntosh Road. The revised plan for the two phases was reviewed by the Fire Marshall and the Police Department and was approved by the Township Engineers and the Planning Commission. The supervisors voted to approve it.
Shadebrook, Phase 2 – Resolution #17-08 The construction of houses in this new large project, located around the intersection of Cider Press Road and Fairmont Drive is well underway. It is located in the TND Traditional Neighborhood Development Overlay Zoning District. The plan for this phase was submitted to the board for approval. It consists of 103 dwelling units and central commercial building with apartments above.
Board members asked about the need for signals at the major intersection to control traffic during peak hours. The developer said they want to install them, but they will need approval from PennDOT, which has not yet determined if they would be needed. The supervisors voted to approve this phase of the project.
April 27, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Orgaceutical, Inc. – Docket #1395 Delbert S. Riley, representing this company, submitted a request for a variance from use regulations in connection with a proposed medical marijuana dispensary to be located in the office building at 4240 Elmerton Avenue. The building is in the ON Office – Neighborhood zoning district and an apothecary is only permitted in the CG Commercial – General zoning district. Township Zoning Officer Amanda Zerbe acknowledged that the zoning of that location had recently been changed from CG to ON.
Mr. Riley explained that the building had been vacant for four years and his company would like to enter into a lease purchase agreement with the current owner. He said the company has applied to the state for a license to dispense medical marijuana, but the license had not yet been approved. In response to questioning by the board, he said there would be from seven to fourteen employees, and the office would be open from nine to six five days a week. Because of the concern for the possible break in to steal the drug, there would be security cameras inside and outside of the building.
Two neighbors living adjacent to the office building expressed concern. They acknowledged that the location of the building, at a crowded intersection, adjacent to the busy Colonial Road and a short distance from the Route 22 intersection, made it less likely that the building could be vandalized. The board voted to table the matter until a future meeting after the state license has been obtained.
Devonshire Memorial Church of the United Brethren in Christ – Docket #SE 17-02 The church on Devonshire Road has been developing a plan for the construction of a new Community Recreation Building on the church’s property. The property is in the R-1 Low Density Residential zoning district. At previous meetings the township agreed that the best way to deal with the zoning problem was for the church to request a Special Exception.
Civil Engineer Tim Mellott gave the board an update on his design work for the project. Issues he discussed included storm water management, traffic control, buffering from neighbors, street trees, adequate parking spaces, and sanitary sewer and water connections. The board voted to approve the Special Exception. The township supervisors will eventually need to vote on a final approval of the project.
May 1, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Fire Equipment The chiefs of the three fire departments reported on the status of their fire truck purchases. The Linglestown chief said their truck had been delivered. The Colonial Park and Paxtonia chiefs said they expected delivery of the trucks fairly soon.
Rescue Task Force The representatives of this force gave reports on the After Action Report-Improvement Plan (AAR-IR).
Systems The fire departments’ chiefs reported that the new Fire Company Software Systems and the Fire Box Systems are working very well.
Bulldozer/Loader This is a new piece of equipment for fire fighters to use when they are fighting brush fires. The fire marshal told the chiefs that their members will be able to train to operate this equipment.
TMI Exercise An exercise was held to train fire company members in dealing with an emergency at the Three Mile Island nuclear energy facility. The report was that there were good reviews for the local company members.
Fire Marshal This person serves as the initial point of contact for coordinating the efforts of the three township fire companies. He suggested that he and the chiefs should plan to hold quarterly meetings to review how best for them to continue to work together.
Members Reports The major item discussed was the recent large fire in the townhouse complex on Wyndham Way. The fire was at the townhomes development, which is one long block east of Prince Street at the end of Virginia Avenue. The fire totally destroyed nine two story town homes, six garages in the line of garages across from the townhomes, and all the cars inside the garages and parked outside. All three of the township fire companies and South Central EMS responded quickly. Fortunately, no resident or fire fighter was injured. The township officials thanked the companies for their quick and professional service during the emergency and recognized the dedicated service of the township’s volunteers and professionals.
May 2, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Board Member’s Comments William Hawk and Robin Lindsey reported on their attendance at the recent state convention of municipal leaders. They indicated that it was very helpful for them to meet with officials from all over the state and discuss common problems and plans. Mrs. Lindsay also noted that on Saturday, May 6th, there would be a Rally for the Troops celebration at Heroes Grove led by radio host R. J. Harris.
Enterprise Fleet Management At the supervisors’ workshop session on April 11th, the board heard a presentation by two representatives from this company on how they could help the township deal with managing their fleet of vehicles used mainly by the Sewer and the Public Works Departments. The company would recommend that there would be a lease/buy agreement, and that most vehicles would be replaced after five years of service. The company would recommend when to sell and replace the vehicles based on their marketing experience. The township said there would be approximately 34 vehicles involved. The company agreed that either party could end the agreement at any time. The supervisors indicated that they were interested in the company’s offer, and asked them to provide more specific information, a list of references, and a draft agreement for the township to consider.
A company representative attended this meeting. The board said they had checked the references, they had received very favorable responses from other municipalities, they had reviewed the draft agreement, and they were ready to act on a final agreement. After further discussion the board voted to approve the agreement.
Running Pump Farm – Resolution #16-29 The Preliminary/Final subdivision plan for this housing development located at 6200 Linglestown Road, east of the village of Linglestown was removed from this meeting’s agenda.
Kendale Oaks – Resolution #17-17 The land for this housing development is located along Conway Road adjacent to Hodge’s Heights Park and the township’s landfill property. The township wants to buy three adjacent lots from the owners, Conway Associates, for $30,000.00. This resolution, accepting the Deed of Dedication for lots 3-A, B, & C in Kendale Oaks, Phase V, was approved.
May 3, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Parks & Recreation Ordinances and Fees For the last number of meetings the board has been working on finalizing suggested revisions to the township ordinance covering use of the ten township parks. P&R Department Manager Terry Bauknight has worked with the board to finalize the revised ordinance. The board will review their proposed ordinance revisions and additions with Township Manager George Wolfe, before submitting them to the supervisors at their May 9th meeting for their consideration.
Major items discussed at this meeting regarding the ordinance were: controlling and scheduling the use of the fields at the parks, establishing a policy on naming rights of fields, controlling companies’ advertizing on the fields, controlling concession activities during games, etc. They recognized the need to have financial help from companies and individuals who use the park, but they want to set restrictions on the size and color of temporary signs groups want to put up. They agreed on a suggested policy requiring the signs to have white lettering on a green background.
Koons Park The baseball teams offered to pay for having porta johns installed at the field or fields they will use during their season. The board noted that if they rented any fields they would have to have one porta john for handicapped persons. The board approved the agreement.
Park Updates Ms. Bauknight reported that she has visited all the parks recently to check on their condition prior to the beginning of the active season. She said that the Colonial Park Rotary Club will be helping to do repair work at Possibility Place and volunteers will be working to clean up along the steam in Brightbill Park. She added that R. J. Harris who does the local morning radio show will be at Heroes Grove as part of the event on May 6.
Greenway Committee Committee member and P&R Board member Jim Seidler presented a map of the township, he has prepared, showing existing sidewalks and indicating suggestions where new sidewalks could complete walking trails. He is hoping to eventually have the map put on the township’s web site.
Community Engagement Committee Plans for the annual 5K race in June starting at the Friendship Center are underway. Information about the race will be on the township’s web site. As always volunteers are needed to help on race day.
Friendship Center Report Ms. Bauknight reported on the improvement activities that are underway at the center. New fitness equipment has been purchased and construction activities are continuing. The new indoor climbing wall will be constructed and naming rights finalized. Work at the center is expected to be completed in late June or July. She noted that work is scheduled to begin the installation of new flooring at Possibility Place in George Park.
May 3, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING Reported by Bill Bostic
Planning Commissioner member Steve Libhart was absent.
Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan for Faith United Presbyterian Church The church, which is located along Colonial Road at Hillsdale Road in the Colonial Crest development, wants to divide an 8.4-acre lot located behind the church into two lots. Both lots are currently undeveloped and no development is proposed at this time. The commission unanimously recommended approval of the plan.
Proposed Ordinance 17-03, changes to Residential Retirement Development (RRD) Overlay Triple Crown Corporation (TCC) plans to construct a mixed-use community designed to attract persons age 55 and older on what is currently the Blue Ridge Country Club (BRCC) on Linglestown Road. Representatives of TCC presented a final version of a proposed text amendment to the zoning ordinance. Also, the ordinance would change the zoning district for BRCC from Agricultural Residential (AR) to Institutional (IN), which is the only district that allows RRDs. The commission unanimously recommended approval of the proposed ordinance text amendment and change to the zoning map. Below is a summary of comments related to this issue:
– Andrew Bomberger, regional planner with Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, had no concerns about the ordinance. He requested that TCC consider including accommodations for public transit and bicyclists in their proposed development plan.
– SWAN member Mark Levine requested the section of the proposed text amendment that allows a pedestrian pathway in lieu of a sidewalk along an arterial street require the pathway to be constructed with concrete. Commissioner Roy Newsome asked the township staff to check the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance (SALDO) for construction standards.
– A resident of Fairfax Village townhomes, along Patton Road, expressed concerns about increased traffic along Linglestown Road that TCC’s project would cause and talked about the need to make Continental Drive an alternate east-west route.
– Commissioners Newsome, Lighty and Grove thanked TCC for their cooperation with incorporating comments and requests made by the public and Planning Commission into the proposed text amendment for RRD overlays. They said their concerns about certain provisions in the revised ordinance could be addressed during the review of the project plan.
Comprehensive Plan update The next workshop meeting with the consultant, Charlie Schmehl of Urban Research & Development Corporation (URDC) of Bethlehem, is scheduled for May 23 at 6 pm in the municipal center.
May 9, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORKSHOP SESSION Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment Mark Levine, representing SWAN, addressed the board with a concern about the proposed sidewalk along the north side of Linglestown Road on what is now the Blue Ridge Country Club property. The supervisors’ understanding is that the matter will be considered at the next meeting of the township’s Planning Commission.
Paxtonia Fire Company All of the three township companies are buying new ladder fire trucks. The Paxtonia company chief reported that his company is now having a problem since they have had to change dealerships to get the truck they need. They asked the board for help. Public Safety Director David Spotts also explained the situation and the options. The board agreed with the decision to sell the present truck and buy a new truck from another dealership and voted to approve the purchase.
Parks and Friendship Center Members from the Parks & Recreation Board and the Friendship Center Operating Board attended the meeting and presented the final draft of their proposed changes to the township ordinances regarding naming rights, fees and advertising in the parks and at the Friendship Center. They have been working on these changes for some time and had reviewed the final draft with Township Manager George Wolfe. The supervisors expressed their approval of the document and asked solicitor Steven Stine to review it. They agreed to include action on approving the document in the next township newsletter.
Earl Drive Culvert At recent meetings an engineer from HRG, Inc. has discussed the two options the township has to stabilize the banks of the creek above the Earl Drive culvert. She gave the board estimated costs for each option. The board had considered meeting with the eleven home owners involved to discuss the options before making a decision on how to proceed. They agreed to direct the engineers to move forward with preparing schematics and they will schedule a time for a meeting with the involved homeowners.
Running Pump Farm After previous meetings with the supervisors and the Zoning Hearing Board, Eric Kessler was given approval of a subdivision plan to construct a house on each of three lots on his property identified as 6220 Linglestown Road. At this meeting he asked to be allowed to plant the street trees that are required by the Shade Tree Commission at alternate locations because of the existing wetlands, where the trees could not survive. The board said they will put the matter on the agenda for the next supervisors’ meeting.
Feral Cats The issue of wild cats has been brought up at several previous meetings. The particular problem was raised by a homeowner whose next door neighbor feeds them and the cats stay there and quickly reproduce. The homeowner and a veterinarian who had spoken before presented a film showing similar situations. The board agreed that they would do something about the problem. Mr. Wolfe said he will contact the local Humane Society and look into making some kind of an agreement.
Recreational Vehicles At two meetings earlier in the year, the matter of residents parking their RV’s on public streets was discussed. Ordinance #17-02 was prepared and in February was adopted to establish basic restrictions, including the size of the vehicle and the length of time it could be parked on the street. There was an understanding that the ordinance could be amended in the future to address any additional issues
At this meeting two individuals stated that the ordinance did not allow residents to connect electric and water lines from their homes to the RV’s when the vehicles are parked on the street. They said this was a serious problem since there was no place for them to store their vehicles anywhere close to their homes and it takes up to thirty six hours to charge the batteries. The board agreed to revise the ordinance to recognize these problems. The board is required to schedule another public hearing and make the necessary advertisements to finalize any ordinance changes.
Public Works Building The board heard a report from GHD engineers for the final work on the extension to the township’s Public Works building on Locust Lane. The project has taken a few years of work but is now almost complete.
Fort Gilchrist This old house is located on the south side of Linglestown Road, a half mile east of Colonial Road. It became a fort during the French and Indian War between 1754 and 1763 and was also a blacksmith shop. It is a registered historic site, but has been empty for a long time. The county had expressed an interest in preserving it and the township had invited their representatives to attend this meeting to discuss it. Unfortunately none of them came. The board asked Mr. Wolfe to invite them to a future meeting.
Bamboo A resident requested that the board consider taking action to make it illegal to plant or grow bamboo plants in the township. She made a presentation showing how her neighbor’s bamboo has spread underground into her yard and showed that it is essentially impossible to kill the plant or stop it from spreading. She said it can even damage underground gas, water and sewer lines. She wanted to educate the public about this problem. The board agreed to consider passing an ordinance prohibiting the planting of bamboo which is considered to be a noxious weed.
Township’s Landfill The Department of Environmental Protection will begin their review of suggested modifications to the township’s landfill closure plan. The facility is located along Conway Road adjacent to Hodge’s Height Park. Personnel from the township’s engineers HRG will be doing the ground water sampling and other required testing for an extended period of time and will eventually be preparing the required response to the state. The township will need to put $25,000.00 to $30,000.00 in next year’s budget to pay for the engineers’ work.
Sara Jane Cate Just before this meeting the supervisors went to this lady’s home to present her with a plaque. It was in recognition of her many years of service on the township’s Zoning Hearing Board.
May 15, 2017
LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING Reported by Watson Fisher
Public Comment A citizen expressed concern about the paved walking path along McIntosh Road in the Stray Winds Farm new housing development. At the top of the hill on the south side of the road along the front of the old farm house property the walking path is right against the road. She suggested installing some sort of fence or guard rail to protect children and dogs on leashes from being hit by vehicles. Developer Mark DeSanto responded that he will cooperate with the contractor to address this issue.
2017 National Police Week Public Safety Director David Spotts asked the supervisors to declare this week Police Week in the township in order to recognize the work the township officers do. The supervisors officially approved the proclamation and commended Mr. Spotts and the entire force for their outstanding service to the township.
Manager’s Report Township manager George Wolfe announced that the planned Memorial Day events will include a parade in Linglestown with the Linglestown Fire Company participating. Also there be a one mile run.
Peddling and Soliciting – Ordinance #17-06 This ordinance would amend Article 137 of the Codified Ordinances regarding peddling and soliciting. Mr. Spotts prepared the ordinance amendment to require solicitors to have a township issued permit and to display a identification badge when they are going door to door. The ordinance would say that they cannot start before 8:00 AM and that residents can display a no soliciting sign on their doors. The supervisors held a public hearing on this matter after which they voted to approve the amendment.
George and Leah Lois The board considered action on a Court of Common Pleas Eminent Domain Settlement and Stipulation with this couple. They are the owners of a property on South Houcks Road and they have signed the order. Township Solicitor Steven Stine stated that the supervisors were free to take action on the settlement and the board voted to approve it.
Blue Ridge Country Club – Ordinance #17-03 The proposed action regarding this ordinance would consist of a text amendment to the zoning ordinance that would change the zoning designation of the club property from AR Agricultural Residential to IN Institutional and would amend the Residential Retirement Development zoning regulations. At their January 10th workshop meeting the supervisors heard a presentation from the property’s owner Mark DiSanto and a developer showing their proposed plan for the mixed use residential and business development on the 130 acre property on the north side of Linglestown Road. Following that after review the township’s Planning Commission on May 3rd of this year approved the plan and it was stated that Dauphin County also supports it.
At this meeting a public hearing was held and a slightly updated plan for the development of the property was presented. It again included a small commercial area along Linglestown Road, a mix of housing types behind that, and a 31 acre public park on the north east side of the property. The plan would be to use the existing clubhouse as a restaurant and a meeting hall for the community. There would probably also be a grocery store, a pharmacy and maybe a coffee shop along the front of the property near Linglestown Road.
A large number of citizens spoke with concerns, mostly about potential additional traffic problems along the already heavily used Linglestown Road from the river to Linglestown. Home owners from areas around the property and farther north to the mountain were concerned about adding to the capacity of the existing sewer and water lines in the area. The developers said that traffic consultants and PennDOT would be involved with addressing the traffic problems. Traffic signals will be needed at the Linglestown Road/Crums Mill road intersection.
The current plan shows 140 apartment units in four fairly tall buildings, 106 single family homes and 103 attached townhomes. There would be a planned aging in place facility, which would include personal care and memory care units, but not skilled care. It was noted that the Vartan Company has a plan to build a similar development on their property on the south east corner of the Linglestown Road and Progress Avenue intersection. Concerns were also raised about the planned park on the north east side of the club property. The question was raised, if the park is open to the public will the township maintain it. And also, the plan shows only a very small parking lot for the public to use adjacent to the park.
At this meeting the plan was to act on the proposed ordinance modifying the change to the zoning map, not on the actual plan of the development. The supervisors voted on approving the proposed ordinance change. However the motion failed on a 3 to 2 vote. Work on resolving the whole matter will continue.
Heroes Grove – Resolution #17-18 This resolution would authorize the submission of a grant application to the state under the Act 13 Greenways Trails and Recreation Program. The grant would help pay for the construction of Phase 2 of the Heroes Grove project that includes a removable shelter over the open stage area. The board approved submitting the grant application.
Drainage Improvement Program Bids were received for the 2017 Lower Paxton Township program. The low bidder was Mid State Paving Company in the amount of $591,937.00. Township engineers HRG and solicitor Steven Stine approved the bidding and the supervisors voted to award the contract for the project to Mid State.
Running Pump Farm – Resolution #16-29 After repeated submissions and meetings with the township in February, Eric Kessler received approval from the Zoning Hearing Board to construct houses on three lots on his farm property. The large property is on the north side of Linglestown Road just east of the village of Linglestown.
At this meeting the supervisors considered the Preliminary/Final subdivision plan for the project. The supervisors asked Mr. Kessler about the area along the road at the east end of the property where PennDOT is storing highway equipment. He said it was his understanding that they will continue to need to use that area for another seventeen to eighteen months. He also said that he will be planting the number of street trees on the property the ordinance requires. The Board of Supervisors approved the resolution.