SWAN Newsletter #38

June 9, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WORkSHOP

(6:00 – 8:30 PM)

Attended by Watson Fisher, Bill Bostic and Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.

Absent: David Blain

Linglestown Life United Methodist Church requested some waivers regarding their proposed land development plan. These were relatively minor, and the Supervisors were amenable to the requests. During this discussion, it was noted that the parent company of American Water Company might not install the water line along Linglestown Road as part of the Linglestown Square Project. Apparently not enough of the residents agreed to tap on to the water line and the cost to the water company has become prohibitive.

COMMENT: In light of the fire safety issue alone, it seems the Supervisors and the Linglestown Square Project Committee should be more pro-active in insuring that the water line is installed during the Linglestown Square Project construction period.

The final draft of the proposed Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance was reviewed. It was not clear whether there would be another review by the Planning Commission. In any event, the last chance for outside input will be at the public hearing. The Supervisors requested an approximate date for this, but in the ensuing discussion none was given.

Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance to facilitate the sale of “vertical” condominiums

were discussed. It was generally agreed that “stacking” was not a problem since ordinances concerning density, setbacks, buffers, etc., would not be affected. The present problem is that lenders are reluctant to provide mortgages for units having no common ground. The Supervisors are reluctant to wait for an indeterminate time for a court decision.

Acting Police Chief Johnson proposed a reorganization of the Police Department including revised scheduling. Apparently these proposed changes are having a positive effect on the morale of the Department.

Mr. Wolfe will submit a grant request to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program in the amount of $185,200. This will primarily involve LED lighting at the municipal building, the Friendship Center, and the Public Works Building.

COMMENT: There is an interesting sidelight concerning information requested on the form required for this grant. The Township must indicate the number of jobs saved or created by this grant.

The Supervisors considered a request from Dauphin County to use certain township properties as temporary debris storage and reduction sites. The Supervisors requested that the County provide more details as to what exactly is to be stored and for how long.

The Supervisors agreed that the park planning process developed by Parks and Recreation should be continued to be applied to the development process of the Wolfersberger Tract.

The review of the report prepared by the Koons Memorial Swim Club was much more positive from a financial standpoint than previous years.

Under “Otta Know”, Mr. Wolfe reported that Comcast Cable television franchise negotiations were continuing with 25 municipalities involved. The present contract expires in 2010.

June 10, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.

Robert R. & Bette J. Keneda – Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan #09-11 The subdivision request is for the property at 2292 Forest Lane which fronts to the west on Forest Lane and to the east on Colonial Road. The property is zoned R-2 Medium Density Residential. The existing residence is on the southern portion of the property and the request is to create a smaller separate lot at the northern end of the property for a new single-family residence for the couple’s daughter. Township and HRG’s comments have been satisfied. The commissioners recommended approval of this request.

Miscellaneous – The commissioners discussed two letters they had received from SWAN’s Chairman Eric Epstein. One regarded a previous presentation made by attorney Robert Dobson concerning a ruling by the Commonwealth Court on the definitions of “lot” and “unit” regarding condominium units. This ruling could seriously affect construction of new condominium units in the state. The letter was a request that no consideration be given to a change in the ordinance until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court further resolves the matter. The commissioners stated that township solicitor Steve Stine was reviewing the matter and would report back to the township officials. It was noted that it would probably be a long time before a judicial ruling is received on this matter. The commissioners agreed to recommend to the supervisors that they take no action on any change proposed by the township before the planning commission reviews it.

The other letter from Mr. Epstein regarded the township’s noise ordinance. Several township households in particular have had ongoing extreme problems with noise from neighbors and have had little help from officials. The letter requested that the township consider strengthening the noise ordinance and he submitted for consideration a copy of the Susquehanna Township ordinance as a possible guide. The commissioners reported that the township staff is in the process of getting copies of the noise ordinances from several townships and they will review them to help determine what changes it might be desirable to make.

The commissioners at their recent workshop meeting developed a list of business owners they intend to invite to an informational meeting regarding the Business Improvement District they hope to create along Route 22 in the township. They now have a rough draft of the letter of invitation they plan to send to those owners and it will be finalized and sent soon.

The last item of discussion regarded the probable need for the development of an ordinance covering the placement of wind turbines in the township. Several commissioners attended a meeting about this and it was pointed out that without an ordinance small wind mills could be placed almost anywhere, including on roofs, within required setbacks, etc., resulting in unsafe and unsightly situations and even noise. Township staff indicated that it was unlikely that there is anything in the existing regulations applicable to this matter. With electric rates ready to go up there would seem to be a probability of these being marketed even for residential use. A model ordinance has been developed and a copy will be gotten for discussion at the next meeting.

June 16, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING

(7:30 – 8:30 PM)

Attended by Watson Fisher and Ted Robertson. Reported by Ted Robertson.

LP Township Police Officer McCoy was promoted to Sergeant.

Mr. Wolfe reported that fireworks would be displayed on Sunday, July 5th at Koons Park at 9:15 PM.

Under Old Business, after a public hearing, Ordinance 09-01 was approved unanimously. This Ordinance establishes a Length of Service Awards Program for volunteer firefighters and fire police officers. The program establishes age and service requirements, and provides a maximum amount of $250 per month.

Resolution 09-02, establishing a LOSAP fund for Ordinance 09-01 above, was passed by a vote of 5 – 0. The township will provide $60,000 per year for this fund.

Resolution 09-26, authorizing the submission of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) to the U. S. Department of Energy was passed unanimously. This was in the amount of $185,200 and was covered in the previous Workshop report.

Under New Business, after a public hearing, Ordinance 09-05 was passed by a vote of 5 – 0. This approves collection procedures and adopts a schedule of attorney fees to be applied to municipal claims.

Change Order 1 and 2 to the contract with D & M Construction for the Trunk A sanitary sewer project were as follows: Change Order #1 $2,168.00. Change Order #2 (-$34,585.00).

Under Subdivision and Land Development, the preliminary/final land development plan for Triple Crown Corporation’s North Mountain Road Car Wash was approved by a vote of 5 – 0.

The preliminary/final land development plan for the expansion of Linglestown Life United Methodist Church was approved unanimously.

June 25, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP ZONING HEARING BOARD MEETING

Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.

Kyleen R. Beistline – Docket No. 1261 This request was for a variance from the minimum side yard setback requirement regarding a proposed addition to the house at 6134 Blue Ridge Avenue located in the R-2 Medium Density Residential District. The side yard setback requirement is 15 feet but the existing side yard on one side of the house is currently only 6 feet as a result of the enclosure of a porch to create a dining room by a previous owner. The proposed addition would extend the 6-foot set back farther to the rear of the property. The addition would not exceed the requirements for maximum building coverage of 50% or the maximum impervious coverage of 60%. The variance request was approved.

Select Medical Property Ventures, Inc. – Docket No. 1262 This application involves the former Villa Teresa Nursing Home property located at 1051 Avila Road in the IN Institutional District. The 6.2-acre lot contains the former nursing home building and a two-story convent building. The owner wishes to subdivide the property into two lots, one for each building, so that the convent building can be sold to the Diocese of Harrisburg.

The reason for the variance request is that there is only 29.3 feet between the two buildings. The owner requested a variance from the minimum 25-foot side yard setback requirement for each building so the new line dividing the properties can be placed equidistance between the two existing structures. There was concern that depending on the possible future use of the nursing home building there might not be enough parking available to meet the code requirement but it was pointed out that there is open space to the south of the building for more parking if needed. Considering that the existing buildings are in the Institutional District it was felt the side yard set back requirement was not as critical as it would be in a residential district. The variance request was approved.

MLG Enterprises – Docket No.1263 This application was continued until the July board meeting at the request of the applicant.

Beau Brown and Naomi Williams – Docket No. SE 09-04 This application was withdrawn by the applicant.

July 1, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PARKS & RECREATION BOARD MEETING

Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.

Park System Leash Law At their previous meeting Parks & Recreation Department Director Brian Luetchford discussed with the board the matter of having dogs running free in the township parks. The township ordinance allows dogs to be in the parks but they must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet to avoid the dogs becoming a nuisance and possibly hurting someone if they are not under control. The police have said that complaints that have been filed when the ordinance has been violated have been dropped by the District Justice. The options that were considered were to ban dogs from the parks or to enforce the ordinance. A survey was done of 10 neighboring municipalities and almost all of them allow dogs in their parks and require that they be leased. The board voted to publicly advise park users of the existing ordinance and to work to have it enforced by the police and the District Justices.

Park Ball Field Reservations Kathy Sawyer reported that payments and insurance certificates have been received for all summer ball field reservations and that fall schedules and payments are due by August 1.

Greenway Committee The July committee meeting was cancelled due to the lack of a quorum. The next meeting will be Wednesday, August 5, at 6:00 pm at the Friendship Center.

Wolfersberger Park Planning Schedule At last month’s meeting Mr. Luetchford presented to the board a draft of the proposed schedule for the planning phase of the development of Wolfersberger Park. The board agreed with the schedule and he then presented it to the supervisors. He reported to the board that the supervisors were comfortable with the process and the schedule but they quickly stated that there appeared to be no hope that funds for the project would be available in the foreseeable future from the township due to the budget problems. A grant has been applied for which would provide half of the cost for a professional to develop final detailed plans for the project. Should that application be successful there would be no township money available to provide the required matching funds.

The P&R board had to decide whether to continue gathering information and scheduling meetings to acquire public input on the project or to halt further work. Mr. Luetchford proposed that a hold be put on further efforts at this time and to reopen discussion on the project in the spring after the 2010 budget process is completed. The board agreed to this recommendation.

Miscellaneous Mr. Luetchford reported to the board on the results of the recent supervisors’ budget workshop meeting where department heads were advised that because of the budget problems some layoffs and additional cuts in expenditures might be necessary. He also reported that the state joint permit for the completion to the Nyes Road entrance to George Park had been received and that the work can now be completed.

July 7, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING

(7:35 – 8:25 PM)

Attended by Ted Robertson and Watson Fisher. Reported by Ted Robertson.

Under Old Business Resolution 09-23 was adopted unanimously. This provides a schedule of attorney fees to be applied to municipal claims.

Ordinance 09-09, the acceptance of Blackberry Alley between North Mountain Road and Blue Mountain Parkway as a public road was withdrawn to make right-of-way modifications.

Under New Business, Resolution 09-27, adopting the December 16, 2008 schedule and procedures for the disposition of records as set forth in the Municipal Records Manual was passed by a vote of 5 – 0.

Resolution 09-28, authorizing the submission of a CDBG application to Dauphin County for the Winfield Street storm sewer project, was passed unanimously.

Resolution 09-30, authorizing the submission of a CDBG application to Dauphin County for ADA improvements at the Union Deposit, Scenery Drive, East Park Drive intersections, was passed unanimously.

Resolution 09-29, a proposal to purchase electricity from Constellation Energy in accordance with pricing from the PLMC Mutual Utility Alliance, was approved unanimously. The Supervisors opted for the two-year contract. Alternate contracts were provided for one and three years. (Mary Klaus had a more detailed article in the Patriot News on July 8th).

Under Subdivision and Land Development, the preliminary/final subdivision plan for Robert and Bette Kaneda (09-11) was approved by a vote of 5 – 0.

July 8, 2009

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING

Attended and reported by Watson Fisher.

Select Medical – Preliminary/Final Subdivision Plan #09-12 The subdivision request is for the property located at 1051 Avila Road on which the former Villa Teresa Nursing Home and a two story convent building are located. The 6.2-acre lot is in the Institutional District (IN). The property owner, Select Medical Property Ventures, Inc., wishes to subdivide the property into two lots, one for each building, in order to sell the convent building to the Diocese of Harrisburg. There are no current plans for the Villa Teresa building. Last month the Zoning Hearing Board approved a variance request for relief from the 25-foot side yard setback requirement that could not be met when the property becomes two lots since the two buildings are only 30 feet apart. The commissioners recommended approval of the subdivision request.

MLG Enterprises – Special Exception #09-05 This request is in regard to the Best Western Motel property at the intersection of North Mountain Road and Route 81. Best Western wishes to subdivide the property into two lots, one for the existing motel and the other for the Country Oven Restaurant. The 251 parking spaces on the site now meet the code requirement that was in effect before the ordinance was changed. If two lots are created the new ordinance would be in effect and the parking requirement for the two lots would be 271 spaces, or 20 more than currently exists. The Special Exception would allow the motel and the restaurant to continue to operate with 251 spaces.

The applicant stated that there have been no real parking problems in the past. It was noted that the parking lots cannot be expanded but that the current stripping of the lots appears to be inefficient and restripping could gain some number of additional spaces. The commissioners voted to advise the Zoning Hearing Board that while they have concerns they find the Special Exception request to be unobjectionable.

Ordinances #09-07 and #09-08 These proposed text amendments, one to the Zoning Ordinance and one to the SALDO, are in regard to the recent ruling from the Commonwealth Court regarding certain legal definitions related to condominiums. Mr. Robert Dobslaw, an attorney from Lancaster, made a presentation to the commissioners at their May meeting regarding the need to now clarify the ordinances to avoid difficulty and confusion arising from the ruling. The ruling has been challenged and is now before the Supreme Court but it is not known when they might consider it and whether or not it might be overruled.

Mr. Dobslaw subsequently submitted a draft to the township indicating his suggested changes to the ordinances. He again made a presentation of his concerns to the commissioners and stated that Lower Paxton and another township were the first in the state to pursue this matter. Township solicitor Steve Stine has reviewed the draft and has responded that he feels some amendments should be developed to address the problem. The commissioners asked the staff to contact the state association of townships to see if they were doing anything regarding this. They agreed that some amendments should be developed but stated that they were not ready to act on anything at this time. They tabled action on the ones that were proposed pending further study.

Noise Ordinance The commissioners discussed the proposed changes to the Noise Ordinance that were submitted previously by SWAN. These changes were initiated by the extended problems experienced by the Tara Mead family and they follow the provisions of the existing ordinance in Susquehanna Township.

Staff member Amanda Mitchell has worked on the problem and she reported that enforcement of the much stricter requirements of the proposed ordinance would require new equipment and training. Also, her review of ordinances in neighboring municipalities indicated that most were similar to Lower Paxton’s regarding decibel requirements and hours. Staff reported that there is a jurisdictional problem since the existing requirements are in the Zoning Ordinance and problems fall to the codes department but routine complaints and serious problems are usually directed to the police and are handled as disturbing the peace matters. They indicated that the police have reservations about dealing with noise problems since they are not equipped with any way to take readings. Usually after a complaint is received a uniformed officer arriving on the scene can quickly deal with the problem. Staff cautioned against over regulating the issue and adopting requirements that could be unenforceable.

It was agreed that the Mead family issue indicated the need to review the existing ordinance and to make some changes to better deal with the problem. The commissioners asked that staff bring their recommendations to the next meeting for discussion and that they contact SWAN chairman Eric Epstein to further review the matter.

Wind Trubines The matter of developing an ordinance covering the installation of wind turbines was raised again. It was noted that at least one has already has been installed in the township. Staff said they would develop a draft ordinance for discussion at the next meeting. The commissioners suggested that turbines be allowed only by Special Exception in all districts except possibly the agricultural.