STORMWATER AUTHORITY LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP
REGULAR MEETING AUGUST 1, 2019
The following were in ATTENDANCE:
STORMWATER AUTHORITY BOARD TOWNSHIP PERSONNEL
Gordon E. Wilson, Chairman Rebecca Davis, MS4 Coordinator
Timothy Johnson, Vice Chairman (arrived at 8:08 pm)
Lloyd Bucher, Treasurer
Alison J Shuler, Secretary
Richard Schin, Assistant Secretary
Also in attendance: Vicky Ann Trimmer, Esquire, and Tina Thomas, Recording Secretary.
Chairman Wilson called the August 1, 2019 Regular Meeting of the Stormwater Authority to order at 8:04 pm. He announced that Proof of Publication was available for review. Tina Thomas completed a Roll Call of the Board members present.
Mr. Schin moved to approve the minutes from the July 11, 2019 meeting of the Stormwater Authority. Ms. Shuler seconded the motion. Motion carried 3-0 with one abstaining due to absence.
Attorneys Marcus A. McKnight and Matthew A. McKnight were present [at tonight’s meeting] from the firm of Irwin & McKnight, P.C. in Carlisle. They represent the nonprofit organization called Peiffer Memorial Arboretum and Nature Preserve which is located mostly in Lower Allen Township. Mr. David Peiffer, who founded the arboretum, was also in attendance. He dedicated this 35 acre wooded lot in honor of his parents last year.
Mr. McKnight stated that after looking at the stormwater ordinance they feel this land should be an exception for the stormwater fee. Mr. Peiffer spoke about the creation of the Preserve. He had a meeting with the Township Engineer and agreed to grant an easement for a walking path through the Preserve. It is wooded and has no impervious coverage aside from decking built over the wetlands by Township staff. Mr. McKnight provided pictures of the nature preserve and a published article regarding trees and stormwater control. He stated that the county soil conservation district believes this type of property would absorb stormwater and not contribute to run off. Mr. McKnight and Mr. Peiffer feel that the definition of a “common area” in the ordinance includes this arboretum as a nonbillable property. Mr. McKnight also stated that township owned parks open to the public are exempt and the nature trail is also open to the public. He has filed an appeal with the Board of Commissioners based on unfairness of the definition of a billed parcel in the stormwater fee structure. Mr. Peiffer stated that his appeal is not about the money but disputing an ordinance that is arbitrary and gives special privileges.
Board and Staff Response
Mrs. Davis stated that Stormwater Authority enacted a Fee Resolution to establish the Stormwater fee, not an ordinance. She also spoke about the wording regarding the definition of a common area as it states “…owned by a homeowner or condominium association.” This was the basis of the request being denied. Chairman Wilson pointed out that churches are tax exempt but still pay the stormwater fee. Mr. Bucher asked how large the easement is for the nature trail. Mrs. Davis stated that it is approximately 10,000 square feet. Ms. Shuler asked if the Nature Preserve can legally close off the property and Mr. McKnight stated that they can screen people who want to use the property due to liability issues.
MS4 COORDINATOR REPORT – VACANT PARCEL REPORT
Mrs. Davis again presented the vacant parcel data she had gathered but in a more simplified version at the request of the Stormwater Authority. She separated out parcels owned by the same owner without road frontage from those with road frontage. She provided the information with a picture of each lot included from Property Mapper. She pointed out that there are more parcels with frontage than without frontage. Mrs. Davis also stated that frontage as well as lack of frontage does not equate to run-off; all parcels have run-off. Mrs. Shuman asked if the driveways on the Hoover property have compacted gravel. Mrs. Davis is not sure but they would still get charged one ERU.
Board and Staff Response
Chairman Wilson asked if anyone on the Board felt that the credit policy should be changed. Mr. Johnson stated that the common area could be better defined. Ms. Trimmer suggested that Mr. Miner could give a recommendation on whether the term common area equates to public access. Chairman Wilson suggested that the discussion be tabled until next month to give Mrs. Davis time to talk with staff and Mr. Miner.
Mrs. Shuman spoke about being in the same place with their property. She feels it is a discrepancy that a parcel with a structure on it pays $19 or one ERU and so does a vacant parcel. She stated that the Township’s stormwater is deposited onto their land. Mr. Schin asked the Shumans if they pay taxes on both properties. Mrs. Shuman said that they do but they have appealed to the school board which lowered the tax. Mrs. Shuman stated that very few properties in the information Mrs. Davis gathered would meet the same conditions as her property. She does not think her case would increase the number of appeals.
MS4 COORDINATOR – PRISON LETTER
Mrs. Davis spoke about the letter she had received from the State Correctional Institute at Camp Hill. She requested that the Authority members authorize the Solicitor to respond to the letter. The Stormwater Authority voiced its agreement.
Mrs. Davis stated that there is no financial report this month due to the Finance Director being on vacation.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS PERTINENT TO THE AUTHORITY:
Ms. Shuler thanked Mrs. Davis for the work she put into the Vacant Parcel Report. She feels it made the information clearer and easier to understand.
Mr. Bucher suggested that since a large amount of billing is going to PennDOT, the Turnpike, and the Prison that it might be wise to set up a significant provision for bad debt. Mrs. Davis stated that Mr. Miner might know if a lien can be filed against an entity such as the Turnpike, the Prison, or PennDOT. She also stated the Township Manager will be attending a meeting with other township managers next month where there will be discussion held on how townships are handling large, unpaid debt from stormwater fees.
Mr. Johnson asked what action will be taking place before the next meeting with the pending cases. Ms. Trimmer stated that Mr. Peiffer asked for a 60 day extension on his appeal from the Board of Commissioners so that they could come back to the Stormwater Authority. The Board of Commissioners will wait for a recommendation from the Stormwater Authority before they make any decisions.
There being no more business, Mr. Wilson adjourned the Stormwater Authority meeting at 8:52 pm. The next meeting of the Stormwater Authority will take place on Thursday September 5th.