The regular meeting of the Westfall Township Board of Supervisors was held Tuesday, October 4, 2011, at 7:00 pm. The meeting was held at the Township Building on Delaware Drive and LaBarr Lane, Westfall Township.
Those present were Chairman, James Muir; Supervisors, Robert Ewbank, Paul Fischer, Raymond Banach; Solicitor, Robert Bernathy and Secretary, Lisa Green. Also present were Scott Myer, Michael Rendleman, Shawn Bolles, Bill Schneider, Karen Colaiaco, Landa Copertino, John Dalton, Bill Gregory, Chief Stewart,
and approximately 14 members of the general public. Vice-Chairman, Lester Buchanan was not present.
AGENDA: Supervisor Banach asked to re-advertise for the highway employee. Chairman Muir said he thought they had a number of applicants. Supervisor Banach questioned how many they received. Supervisor Ewbank said they received twelve applications and have narrowed them down to three, which will be interviewed later this month. The agenda was amended to move items 1-4 under new business to budget meetings which will take place October 13th, 20th and 27th at 7:00 pm. Agenda approved on a motion by Supervisor Ewbank, seconded by Supervisor Fischer. Motion carries with all in favor.
PUBLIC COMMENT: John Dalton said he would like to express a thank you to Westfall Township on behalf of the Pond Drive resident owners for the new road surfacing and shoulder work. Those on West Pond Drive also received new surfacing and shoulder work. He also wanted to thank Mr. Muir for letting him dispose of home waste during the week of Hurricane Irene. Mr. Dalton stated “in January 2010 I made a presentation on the subject of Earned Income Tax and Mr. Muir said they would take a look at it. To this day, the only comment on Earned Income Tax was made last October 2010 was by a sitting Supervisor who express objection to any EIT. To this day, I have not attempted to seek any feedback nor was there any feedback from those present when my presentation was last made. At this time, my comment is to never close the door until you fully understand that efforts to design such a form is an ongoing process. Since that presentation, I had continued to make improvements but stopped for other personal reasons. I am reluctant to continue to pursue and make further improvements or analysis on how this would be of benefit to Westfall township coffers simply because of the lack of encouragement or feedback from you supervisors. Again, my suggestion is this: Never close the door to good suggestions. Last May prior to the primary, a Westfall Tax-Payer & Westfall home owner out of the blue as me: “What is LST?” I was pleased to receive this question since then I continued to be mum for quite some time after I learned what it represented. I had previously done some research and satisfied myself on its representation. As you prepare yourselves to being work on the Westfall Township budget for 2012 later this month, I expect to see “Local Services Tax” completely spelled out in Place of a simple copout “LST” The Pike County Dispatch in November 2009 & 2010 did not indicate what “LST” represented. From now onward you will spell it out for clarity purposes to help out Joe or Jane Smoe.
Mr. Dalton continued by saying I am aware of one Westfall resident who has been in contact with another individual who in turn was in contact with a D.E.P. Official. The residents of Pond Drive are concerned with the rainwater flooding pond drive at the Ponds. Not too long ago, and I was told it was around three years ago, that some work was done in the stream bed at the time by Matamoras since they had the permit to do so. [Chairman Muir asked if this is the pond problem while seeking clarification. I explained that we were dealing with the powerful outflow from the Heaters Hill stream which was impacting the outflow drainage problem from the pond nearest to the Heater Hill stream. I further explained that unless we address this, we could have more serious problems later.] There is a need to re-address this vexing problem again and recently the D.E.P. official even offered to be present and meet with a contact person from Westfall. I have been told that the stream bed is Westfall’s. I have also been told it is Matamoras’. Regardless whose stream it is, both Matamoras and Westfall need to address the problems associated with it before it becomes worse than it currently is. Hurricane/Tropical storm Irene on August 28th, the rains of June 22, 2011, and many other notable and lengthy rainfalls have created havoc on Pond Drive. If we choose to ignore the flooding problem for the short term, I will be the one to stand up here to say: “I told you so!” We need to address this jointly with Matamoras before the Matamoras’ earth berm gives away 9 and this could happen/I am not saying it will since I am not an (environmental) engineer.) And Pond Drive becomes too flooded for emergency vehicles to traverse safely. Homeowners on West Pond Drive will also be at the mercy of such unforeseen weather conditions of severe rainfalls. Please give consideration of my comments here. My remarks also should be taken to heart by prospective candidate supervisors and other Westfall Township home owners. Chairman Muir thanked Mr. Dalton for his comments.
Supervisor Ewbank asked Bill Schneider if he would like to address the stream issue. Mr. Schneider said three years ago Matamoras had a permit to do work on the Pond. Matamoras is trying to obtain another permit. Supervisor Ewbank questioned if there are other issues with sewer pipe. Mr. Schneider said it is gas & water lines. Chairman Muir asked if it is a health and safety issue why can’t we just go in and do the work. Mr. Schneider said we have to ask D.E.P. Chairman Muir asked if we can reach into the stream. Supervisor Ewbank stated the stream is in Matamoras not in Westfall.
Karen Colaiaco of Stark Drive is very strongly in favor of having a burning ban for the whole township. Two main reasons is the health issue which is very bad with the leaves and smoke and she is very tired of smelling the smoke. Mrs. Colaiaco stated she has lived here for 27 years and she can’t go out on her porch because of the smoke traveling. It even comes into the house. Chairman Muir asked what are the opinions of her neighbors. Mrs. Colaiaco said she believes they are against the burning and she could probably bring them with her.
Supervisor Ewbank said it is on the Planning Commission agenda Thursday, October 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm.
Landa Copertino a resident of 62 years said she stood in front of a local business for 3 hours and has a list of residents in favor of burning and a list of residents who want to ban it and no one signed it. Mrs. Copertino said perhaps they could impose a one or two day a week burning ban. Or possibly get together with Matamoras and have leaves picked up and brought to the compost facility. Mrs. Copertino said there are too many elderly people who can not bring leaves to our facility. Chairman Muir said it may be a good idea to approach Matamoras and suggest that we use their equipment since they use our facility.
Bill Gregory of Delaware Drive asked how to prevent people from burning toxic substances and how do you stop them from burning it. Solicitor Bernathy stated it is an ordinance enforcement issue. Chairman Muir said we would have to catch them doing it. Solicitor Bernathy said Mr. Gregory or others would have to assist the township when going to court to testify and that is sometimes a problem. Solicitor Bernathy asked the enforcement officers if we have anything on record for enforcement. Shawn Bolles stated previous zoning ordinances had tried to get people on smoke leaving the property with the Title 25 DEP Regulation. This is hard to prove. Solicitor Bernathy said there is a State law but there is not a Township law. Mr. Gregory asked what does he do when he sees his neighbor burning toxic substances what does he do. He was instructed to call DEP.
Mrs. Colaiaco stated a burning ban would eliminate that. Discussion followed regarding what would happen if the burning were to take place on the weekend. Solicitor Bernathy instructed Mr. Gregory to record everything that transpires.
MINUTES: The minutes of August 2, 2011, Public Hearing & Regular Meeting were reviewed and approved on a motion by Supervisor Fischer. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Ewbank and carries with all in favor.
The minutes of September 6, 2011 Public Hearings & Regular Meeting were reviewed and approved on a motion by Supervisor Ewbank. Motion seconded by Supervisor Fischer and carries with all in favor.
TREASURER’s REPORT: Chairman Muir said we have the Treasurers Report in front of us and asked for a motion to approve the report. Supervisor Banach moved to accept the report. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Fischer and carries with all in favor.
POLICE REPORT: Police Chief Stewart gave the report for September reporting 200 calls for service, with 5,203 miles patrolled. Chief Stewart said they also have a new Facebook site for the residents and new Nixle Alerts for text message or e-mail or both for whether there is an event going on in the township or a pending storm or road is blocked or police activity. Chief highly recommends signing up for one or both of those sites. Motion to accept the police report made by Supervisor Banach and seconded by Supervisor Fischer. Motion carries with all in favor.
FIRE DEPARTMENTS: Luis Bocaletti gave the Westfall Township Fire Department Report for September reporting 1 mutual aid structure fires, 3 auto alarms, 3 MVAs, 2 river rescues, 4 wires down, 9 pump outs, 1 Evacuation, 2 Spill controls, 2 car fire, 2 structure fire, 2 landing zone, 1 mutual aid structure fire. Total calls for month 33. EMS total of 45 calls for month. Luis mentioned the new addition to the firehouse and stated the groundbreaking ceremony will be held in a few weeks and to squelch a few rumors that have been going on the building is not being paid for with taxpayer money it is being paid for by donations and a state loan. Ken Zielazny gave the Mill Rift Fire Department report for September reporting a Car Fire at Wal Mart on 9/7, Tanker Maintenance on 9/7, Truck Fire on 9/8, Monthly Meeting on 9/8, Basement Pump Out on 9/8 & 9/11, Tanker Training 9/14, River Rescue #2 bridge 9/16, Equipment maintenance Compressors 9/21. Total man hours 39 and total equipment hours 9.5 for the month. Supervisor Banach moved to approve reports. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Fischer and carries with all in favor.
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT: Bill Schneider gave the Highway report for September reporting that they have had heavy rains from Hurricane Lee resulting in flooding and cleanup from the storm had to be performed. They have been performing regular maintenance on the township properties and vehicles. Mr. Schneider attended the Pike County Road Task Force Meeting, 9/19 assisted Nelson Tree Service with removing large dead tree on Heaters Hill, 9/20 Assisted Leeward with Blacktop on Pond Drive, 9/22 Cleared and trim right of way of down tree branches on Pond drive. Out checking ditches and drains for all heavy rains throughout the month. Regular maintenance and work on compost pile. 9/26 Remove large tree at the end of Phillips Lane, 9/27 shoulder work/tree down on Old Milford Road, 9/28 Trees, wires and pole down on Heaters Hill. Road closed for several hours for the cleanup with Orange and Rockland and Nelson Tree Service. Ordered 75 Tons of salt / 50 tons were delivered. We have some road-closed signs and an order will be put together for more. There is a lot of work to be done on the road shoulders before winter. Recent storms have slowed this down. Preparation for winter in continuing on roads, vehicles and sanders. Mr. Schneider said there are issues that have to be addressed that can not be put off. He has pictures to show the board. He has been working on the lighting on Reuben Bell Drive and the generator backup on Stella Street. They have replaced two culvert pipes on Glass House Hill. The pedestrian tunnel may be closed down by PennDOT. Mr. Schneider said when you speak about the burning ban the township really doesn’t have the manpower to go out twice a week to pick up leaves. They are not ready for winter yet. But will do what the Supervisors ask them do do.Chairman Muir asked how much money we are saving Matamoras by allowing them to use our compost facility. He feels it would be substantial. Supervisor Ewbank moved to approve the Highway report. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Fischer and carries with all in favor.
BUILDING /ZONING: Zoning Officer Mike Rendleman gave the September report stating that we issued eleven building permit, two sign permits and four zoning permit with total fees of $4,115. Solicitor Bernathy mentioned that he had been discussing what authority if any township agents such as zoning officers or building inspectors have to enter private property without the property owners consent. Solicitor Bernathy said he has spoken with the Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors and had done research prior to doing that and he could not find any authority that gives our officers permission to enter private property with their permission. He has asked for written documentation of that for our records. Solicitor Bernathy said for this point forward he is advising the Supervisors and the employees while present that they should get that consent. Criminal trespass involves going on to someone’s property without getting a license or without privilege to be there. What some municipalities have done is to put language in the application of the permit indicating that if you’re going to apply to the township for a permit you are giving our employees permission to be on the property for purposes of inspection. That way Solicitor Bernathy can argue in court that we have a license to be on the property for purposes of inspection. Without that I’m advising the Supervisors and employees they do not have permission and they need to do so with court order. Chairman Muir asked what happens when Shawn gets a call for an inspection. Solicitor Bernathy said that is different, they are being invited. Mr. Bolles said they are able to walk up to the front door and knock on the door and get permission to go on the property. If they do not give permission we need to obtain a search warrant. Discussion followed regarding whether or not that would be possible. One resident asked what would happen if you had a written complaint. That would not make a difference. Solicitor Bernathy told everyone about the Castle Doctrine, Act 10 of 2011 which allows private property owners the ability to use deadly force if they are in fear. Supervisor Fischer asked if they needed to approve wording. Solicitor Bernathy said he asked Mike to come up with language for the Zoning Application. Supervisor Ewbank moved to approve the report. Motion is seconded by Supervisor Fischer and carries with all in favor. Supervisor Banach said if it is going to go that route there should be a hold harmless agreement, so that if the inspectors go on private property uninvited and they get hurt they can not sue the landowner. Supervisor Banach said he believes they should walk up to the front door and knock, a police officer can not walk on property. Solicitor Bernathy said that is what we are doing from this point forward.
CORRESPONDENCE: On dais for review.
Act 47 Monthly Report: Solicitor Bernathy stated that as everyone knows as of March of last year the Federal Bankruptcy Court signed an order confirming the Townships bankruptcy plan as well as the Act 47 Recovery Plan which amounts to final disposition of the bankruptcy action. The township is operating in the confines of its budget and continues to meet its financial obligations. The township continues to provide essential services. There are some outstanding issues with the Federal Master however they are being addressed.
Shohola / Westfall Building Appeals Board: Solicitor Bernathy stated Shohola is requesting we consider a joint resolution establishing an appeals board, which would save both municipalities money by using the same board. There is a resolution to review. Supervisor Ewbank asked if this would replace the Zoning Hearing Board. Solicitor Bernathy explained that the Building Appeals Board is a separate board. Solicitor Bernathy questioned how many members we had on our appeals board. We only have two members. We need five. Solicitor Bernathy will reach out to Shohola Township.
SUBDIVISION REVIEW and ACTION:
EXECUTIVE SESSION: Called for potential litigation Westfall Town Center / Westfall Township.
ADJOURNMENT: Vice-Chairman Buchanan moved to adjourn at 9:22. Motion seconded by Supervisor Ewbank and carries with all in favor.
Lisa A. Green, Secretary