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Board f Commissioners
3-14-2022 Minutes

MINUTES

BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP
   
REGULAR MEETING MARCH 14, 2022
   
The following were in ATTENDANCE:  
   
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TOWNSHIP PERSONNEL
Dean W. Villone, President Thomas G. Vernau, Jr., Township Manager
H. Edward Black, Vice President Erin G. Trone, Assistant Township Manager
Thomas H. Kutz

Joshua Nagy

Steven P. Miner, Township Solicitor

Richard A. Grove, Finance Director

  David Holl, Public Safety Director
  Rebecca Davis, Public Works Director

Leon G. Crone, Police Captain

  John M. Eby, Building and Zoning Coordinator
  Anthony Deaven, EMS Captain
  Renee’ Greenawalt, Recording Secretary
   
   

President Villone called the March 14, 2022 Regular Meeting of the Board of Commissioners to order at 6:00 PM. He announced that Proof of Publication for this meeting was available for review. This was followed by a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

MEETING MINUTES:

Commissioner KUTZ moved to approve the minutes from the February 28, 2022 Regular Meeting. Commissioner NAGY seconded the motion. The motion carried 4-0.

 

PRESENTATION: Medard’s House

Ms. Mischelle Moyer presented an overview of the program offered at Medard’s House, a free, faith-based, after-school youth program located in the Drexel Hills area of New Cumberland, designed to provide a safe and supportive environment for students. The program includes benefits to local youth such as a free meal, mentorship, homework help, lessons on life skills, games, and other activities. Ms. Moyer noted that the program transports students from a few West Shore School District schools and has plans to extend that opportunity to other schools if funding for additional transportation can be obtained. Recently Medard’s House began offering a mid-day program for Cedar Cliff High School students. Ms. Moyer also noted that the organization was seeking approval from the West Shore School District to create a new bus stop at the end of Drexel Hills Boulevard, next to Medard’s House.

President Villone thanked Ms. Moyer for the presentation. Commissioner Kutz noted his role as a member of the Board at Medard’s House and attested to the great work of the organization.

 

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION:  Any item on the agenda.

President Villone advised the audience that if there were any items on that evening’s agenda that they wished to comment on, to please indicate as such. Several audience members noted their intent to speak. Mr. Joseph Swartz indicated intent to speak on Agenda Item 7B. Ms. Lauren Shartle, Ms. Tiffany Salazar, Ms. Maura Frey, and Ms. Krysten Slyvsarenko all indicated their intent to speak on Agenda Item 10 C.

Director Holl introduced two new police officers, Tyler Lewis and Nicholas Hughes, both of whom just graduated from the Police Academy and have begun field training.

Mr. Vernau introduced a new staff person, Andy Fullerton, hired to work in the Public Works and Facilities Maintenance Departments.

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

President Villone stated that any Commissioner, staff member, or anyone in attendance who would like to have an item on the Consent Agenda removed for further discussion, they could do so at that time. There were none.

Items on the Consent Agenda:

a.  Check Register of March 11, 2022 in the amount of $422,920.55.

b.  Tax Collectors January Monthly Report.

Commissioner KUTZ moved to approve the items on the Consent Agenda. Commissioner NAGY seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

 

PRESIDENT VILLONE:

RESOLUTION 2022-R-12

President Villone requested a motion to adopt RESOLUTION 2022-R-12, appointing Richard A. Dillon as the Maintenance Operations Supervisor effective March 15, 2022.

Commissioner KUTZ made the motion. Vice President BLACK seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

 

Board of Commissioners Vacancy

President Villone presented the issue for discussion. The recent passing of Commissioner Carolyn Holtzman leaves a vacancy on the Board of Commissioners. The law requires that an appointment by resolution is necessary to fill the vacancy must take place within thirty days from the date the vacancy is acknowledged. Commissioner Villone noted, and Solicitor Miner affirmed, that debate for the appointment must occur in a public forum.

President Villone reported that since the previous meeting, he had been contacted by Ms. Jennifer Caron, who expressed her interest in serving in the role as Commissioner. Ms. Caron is currently on the Zoning Hearing Board as an alternate. President Villone noted that she had previously been through the vetting process as part of her consideration for the Zoning Hearing Board role. He asked other Commissioners to bring forward any other interested parties they had been made aware of. There were none.

President Villone invited Mr. Joseph Swartz to approach the podium to comment on the agenda item. Mr. Swartz expressed his interest in being considered for appointment. He noted it would be an honor to serve and spoke about his consistent participation in the meetings, being well apprised of the business before the Board, stating he was well prepared to step into the role. He noted his resume was available for review and that he was open to questions.

President Villone thanked Mr. Swartz for his interest in serving and noted appreciation for his active participation and engagement.

Commissioner Kutz expressed support for Ms. Caron, based on his interaction with her through the process of consideration for appointments last year. President Villone noted his consideration related to Mr. Swartz’s recently political candidacy for election to the Board. He expressed his comfort in deciding to support the appointment of Ms. Caron but noted he was open to consensus against that. Vice-President Black expressed support for Ms. Caron based upon her experience and knowledge.

Commissioner BLACK made a motion to nominate Jennifer M. Caron for appointment to the Board of Commissioners to fill the current vacancy. Commissioner KUTZ seconded. The motion carried 4-0.  President Villone noted there would be a formal resolution presented and a swearing-in ceremony at the next meeting.

ANY BUSINESS PERTINENT TO THE TOWNSHIP:

President Villone noted that if anyone wished to speak at that time, there would be 15 minutes allotted per person to speak at the podium.

Mr. Erik Arneson, Township resident, expressed his thanks to the ambulance crew for their professional and compassionate response to a recent incident involving a family member.

PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR

Ms. Rebecca Davis requested that the Board consider authorizing staff to prepare and solicit bids for the Beacon Hill Bioretention Retrofit Project and the Sheepford Crossing East Bioretention Retrofit Project. She noted that staff were ready to develop the specifications and advertise.

Commissioner KUTZ made the motion to authorize staff to prepare and solicit bids for both projects as presented. Commissioner NAGY seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

COMMUNITY AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

SLD 2021-12 Lot Line Adjustment for lot 505 in Arcona 8.1

Ms. Erin Trone presented the item for discussion and possible action. While an image of the plan was projected onto the screen, Ms. Trone explained the reason for the adjustment in the lot line was due to an inconsistency in the property owner’s deed. The adjustment was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission.

Commissioner KUTZ offered a motion to approve SLD 2021-12 Lot Line Adjustment for lot 505 in Arcona 8.1. Vice President BLACK seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

SLD 2021-13 Revised Arcona 8.1

Ms. Trone presented the item for discussion and possible action. She explained the purpose of the revised plan was to create additional parking, to change one home to a mixed-use commercial space and to build a swimming pool. There are no waivers or zoning variances. The Planning Commission recommended approval.

President Villone noted his attendance at the Planning Commission meeting where this item was discussed and said the issue had sparked discussion. He added that it was his understanding that many of the questions and concerns had been addressed. Commissioner Kutz noted his recollection that much of the discussion centered on parking, and asked Mr. Anthony Faranda-Dietrich from Charter Homes to address the concerns. Mr. Faranda-Dietrich noted that Charter Homes had committed to implementing solutions to delineate on street parking to include proper signage and marked parking spots.

Commissioner KUTZ made a motion to approve SLD 2021-13 Revised Arcona 8.1 with the condition that security and recreation fees are paid. Vice President BLACK seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

SLD 2021-14 Arcona Overall Master Plan

Ms. Trone presented a summary of the reason for discussion and consideration, noting that the change to the OMP was required to reflect the approvals of the revised Arcona phase 8.1 plan. President Villone again noted that this drew much discussion during the previous planning commission meeting, and he invited the audience to share their comments.

Arcona resident, Ms. Lauren Shartle expressed her concern over residential space becoming a commercial space on Whalen Road, noting she had not anticipated commercial use within the development when she purchased her home.

Responding to an inquiry from Vice President Black, Mr. Faranda-Dietrich explained the proposed use of the mixed-use commercial space included two small residential apartments on the second floor of the building and a 500 square foot space on the first floor, which initially, Charter will use to hold sales appointments and will do so for several years. Later, the space will become available for some type of community event space or possibly be leased for a home-based business. He explained that Charter was moving away from the traditional model home space used for sales purposes. He also noted that traffic associated with this use in the neighborhood is not different than what it would be if sales staff operated out of a traditional model home. There is no proposal for additional non-residential space besides the pool.

President Villone suggested that some of the issues of concern had been exacerbated by the ongoing construction and that some of those issues were or would soon begin to settle. He also acknowledged the overall concern by residents who were put off by the perception that there would be significant change from their initial expectations when moving into the development. Mr. Faranda-Dietrich noted that there were approximately 300 more homes yet to be built in the project and that everything west of the railroad tracks would be all residential use. He noted that Charter Homes has no plan or desire to upset the character of the neighborhood and proposed a deed restriction on the mixed-use commercial space along Whelan Road, so that it is not subject to high traffic or volumes, and to limit its use to a community space for the neighborhood or a home-based business, not a traditional commercial space.

Another resident, Ms. Tiffany Salazar expressed concern over limited parking space as well as the removal of a guard rail at the bus stop along Rossmoyne Road.

Ms. Krysten Slyvsarenko also expressed concern over parking and a lack of communication to residents about the proposed changes.

Commissioner Nagy asked Mr. Faranda-Dietrich why Charter Homes felt the change was needed and if there were any alternatives considered. In reply, Mr. Faranda-Dietrich noted that the proposed office space was more conducive to the sales effort. He again acknowledged the legitimate concerns of current residents and noted the compromise to implement a deed restriction on the type of use that can happen in the space once Charter Homes is finished with the selling effort.

Commissioner Kutz stated it seems the concern is about how the space is used now and not necessarily the proposed future use and asked whether the mixed-use space could be located near the pool. Mr. Faranda-Dietrich noted there are no single-family home sites in that part of the neighborhood. He stated that the proposed mixed-use building included two garage parking spaces as well as four spaces behind the building.

Resident, Ms. Maura Frey sought clarification on the proposed apartments and asked whether they would be occupied while Charter Homes was in the sales phase, and if not, could employees use those spaces for parking while the sales office was operating. Mr. Faranda-Dietrich responded the apartments would not be rented during that time and that those parking spaces could be could potentially be available to sales managers.

Mr. John Eby pointed out that, procedurally, the master plan must be consistent with the 8.1 plan. Mr. Miner suggested the Board could entertain a motion to reconsider Agenda Item 10 B.

Mr. Faranda-Dietrich reiterated that Charter Homes was not asking the Board to make an immediate decision, and requested that the item be tabled, and suggested that in the interim, he would work with Mr. Miner on a deed restriction concept to be considered at a future meeting. He also noted that Charter Homes was not seeking any special exceptions or variances that are not already permitted under Township ordinance. President Villone recommended the Board move to table the approval until the issue was resolved.

Vice President BLACK offered a motion to table action on the Arcona Overall Master Plan. Commissioner NAGY seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

PUBLIC SAFETY

PCCD Grant Fund Application

Director Holl referred to a memo in the meeting packet regarding the PCCD grant fund application for the purpose of expanding the current Crime Watch system. He noted the maximum grant was for $250,000 for a two-year period. He summarized the CRIMEWATCH system and explained the need for a back-end functionality limited to law enforcement access for the purpose of creating an information exchange portal. The Police Department seeks permission to apply for the grant funds to accomplish this goal.

Vice President BLACK made a motion to authorize the police department to apply for the grant. Commissioner KUTZ seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

TOWNSHIP MANAGER

Annual Trap, Neuter & Return Program Report

Mr. Vernau presented the annual report on the Trap, Neuter & Return program, which the Township became involved with beginning in 2016. The program is sponsored by an organization called “The Nobody’s Cats Foundation.” The report showed that the population of feral cats is steadily declining, and though slow, is demonstrating efficacy.

COMMISSIONERS REPORTS

Mr. Eby commented on the Development Authority and the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Government for Lower Allen Commons, and congratulated Ms. Trone on her work and efforts towards the accomplishment and recognition.

Ms. Trone noted the receipt of a request from New Cumberland Borough, which is applying for a grant and seeking support from Lower Allen Township on their proposal to develop a comprehensive trails and network plan to connect the Allendale and Beacon Hill trails. They are seeking a letter of support. Board members agreed to sign a letter expressing support for the effort.

Director Holl noted the upcoming Cumberland County Public Safety Consortium and noted there were 85 applicants. He also complimented the fire and EMS staff on their response to the 70+ vehicle incident that recently occurred on Route 581.

Vice President Black echoed praises for the fire and EMS staff, as well as to Ms. Trone and the Development Authority.

Commissioner Nagy said he was honored to have attended the Lower Allen Fire Company banquet and noted their upcoming campaign efforts to attract new members. He also thanked citizens in the audience for their participation in speaking to their issues of concern. Finally, he thanked Ms. Davis for the great job performed by the Public Works crew on during the recent snowstorm.

Commissioner Kutz offered his congratulations to the Public Safety staff in the snowy conditions and noted his observation that the traffic circles near Arcona tend to remain slippery even after treatment and may require additional attention. He also thanked Ms. Jennifer Caron for her attendance and noted his enthusiasm for working with her.

President Villone also noted the traffic circle area and asked whether there is anything else that can be done as it is an area where drifting is always an issue. He noted the amazing job by Public Works staff at clearing roads. He also commented on the Lower Allen Fire Company banquet, which he attended, thanking all Public Safety staff, and said how grateful he is for their service and efforts. He noted his planned attendance at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting, as well as the ceremony for the Governor’s Award and the construction walk-through at Springhill Suites at Lower Allen Commons. He expressed his congratulations to Jennifer Caron and thanked Joe Swartz for coming forward and for his ongoing public engagement.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

Commissioners recessed to executive session at 8:20 p.m. to discuss joining the I-83 South Bridge tolling litigation.

RECONVENE

The meeting was reconvened at 8:51 p.m. Commissioner KUTZ made a motion to authorize the solicitor to join the litigation opposing the I-83 South Bridge tolling, and to approve a one-time $10,000 contribution by Lower Allen Township. Vice President BLACK seconded. The motion carried 4-0.

ADJOURN

The meeting was adjourned at 8:52 p.m.