June 9, 2016 - Regular Meeting

The Regular Monthly Meeting of the Montour Township Board of Supervisors was called to order on June 9, 2016 at 7:30 p.m., by Chairman Joseph Mullen.  Lori Ebright was not present.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

A Moment of Silence was observed.



John Cooper of 28 Perry Avenue, Lot #7, stated that he is physically disabled and would like to have a deck with a handicapped ramp built. His current ramp is only two sheets of plywood and he has had difficulty when entering and exiting his home. Mr. Cooper put in for a zoning permit to have a new deck and handicapped accessible ramp built which was denied due to not meeting zoning requirements. Rich Roberts, Township Solicitor, stated that Mr. Cooper can apply for a variance.  Mr. Cooper stated that he could not afford the fee for the Variance.


Mr. Mullen asked if the $800.00 fee for a variance application can be waived.


Tim Mauk, Codes Enforcement Officer, mentions that he has been to the property several times and feels that there does seem to be a problem.  Unfortunately, by law there must be 30’ between trailers and a 1-12 pitch for the ramp.  A handicapped accessible ramp and deck would only leave a 12’ space between trailers. Mr. Cooper mentions that he has a note from his doctor, and has gotten approval from the trailer park owner and from his neighbors.


Solicitor Roberts stated that he can research to see if there is any case law that says the fee can be waived, however he doesn’t think it is a good precedent to set. He also mentioned that if he finds the fee can be waived it doesn’t mean that the variance will be approved; a hearing will still have to be held. The fee is only for the application.


Forrest Bennett suggested that this process be expedited.

Mr. Cooper asked how long this will take.

Solicitor Roberts explained the steps that need to be taken and that it is a long process.

There was much discussion on this matter.



A MOTION was made, by Mr. Bennett, seconded by Mr. Mullen, to approve the Minutes of the Regular Monthly Meeting of May 12, 2016.  Motion carried.


Mr. Mullen announced that an executive session was held before the meeting regarding personnel matters.


Solicitor Roberts announced that an executive session was held June 2, 2016 regarding personnel matters.           



A MOTION was made by Mr. Bennett, seconded by Mr. Mullen, to approve bills to be paid from the General Fund in the amount of $34,134.90. Motion carried.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett, to approve bills to be paid from the Special Police Fund in the amount of $1,362.26. Motion carried.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Bennett, seconded by Mr. Mullen, to approve bills to be paid from the Highway Fund in the amount of $3,496.66. Motion carried.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Bennett, seconded by Mr. Mullen, to approve bills to be paid from the Sewer Fund in the amount of $13,436.31.  Motion carried.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Bennett, seconded by Mr. Mullen, to approve bills to be paid from the Debit Card Account for the month of May in the amount of $52.04.  Motion carried.


Mr. Bennett asked if the regular monthly bills could be approved with one motion for the sake of saving time.


Solicitor Roberts stated that all monthly bill approvals can be made with one motion.


Mr. Mullen mentioned that Mike Hinkle, Road Foreman has anticipated the start time for the reclamation of Tower Rd. to be toward the end of June.






John Bauer, Sewer Treatment Plant Operator, reported that there was nothing new to report. 

He has just received the new permitting structure for the sewer plant which will require further monthly and annual testing which may cause his cost to slightly increase.



Solicitor Roberts reports nothing new at this time.



There is nothing new to report.


Mr. Mullen reported on the Townships financials.  Everything is doing well. The Township has received 75-80% of its projected income, and has spent approximately 40% of its expected budget.


There is nothing new to report.


There is nothing new to report.


Mr. Mullen suggested that a Landlord Registration Ordinance be expedited.

Solicitor Roberts stated that he will start a draft ordinance.



Mr. Mullen read a list of the changes and corrections that he is suggesting for the proposed Comprehensive Plan that was presented at the last public meeting.  

1. In the Community Development Objectives section,

1.b., second line – remove the word “new”.  Future development is to be directed towards Village Residential and Suburban Residential districts – both old and new.

3.a. and 3.b., at the end of both sentences add: “and update as needed.

2.   In the Planning Recommendations section,

1, Last sentence – Question: does approval of 1 imply approval of the recommendations that follow and also the map?  If so, move this item so it is voted on last.

1.2  –NO- Commercial and multi-family development produces lots of hard surfaces (roof, roads, parking lots, sidewalks).  The area identified for the zoning change is a long narrow section along Montour Run.  Montour Run is a floodplain area and needs protection from development.  Additionally, in light of MS4, placing a large amount of impervious surfaces in this narrow strip is not wise in light  of the need to control water runoff entering the stream.

1.7 –NO- Objective 1.4 says “Lands with quality farmland soils should be conserved…for agriculture.”  As noted in the draft plan, “The Township has many acres of prime farmland and soils of statewide importance.  Some are used for crop production, some are covered in maturing forest, and others have been overlaid by development.”  The area identified for rezoning contains a significant amount of prime soils – class I, II, and III soils.  Prime soils are a natural resource and development renders them virtually irretrievable.  The background studies conclude that there is abundant room for development in existing residential areas and that no rezoning is necessary to accommodate future growth.  Since more land zoned for residential use is not needed, it seems prudent not to rezone this area but to keep it for agriculture use, thereby conserving our prime soils.

1.8 – DELETE- Geographic boundaries for the district have not been defined; Township funding is not available to conduct the studies needed to determine if this area is suitable for this use; examples of intensive agriculture zoning districts that have been challenged and have stood up under review have not been presented; Unsure of the legal issues related to the creation of these districts.

11    – last sentence – change “provide” to “seek grants for”.

3. Other Items,

REMOVE all references concerning the removal of lands from Agricultural Security Areas, both in the narrative and on the maps.   these references are not supported by objective 1.d., and the Township should not be in the position of seeming to suggest the removal of land from ASA’s.

ADD “Seek funding assistance for the development/redevelopment of affordable housing for lower income households.”  The 1990 Comprehensive Plan expressed concerns about this. No notable improvements/progress has been made since then. The concern/need continues and as such should be included in the Comprehensive Plan.


Mr. Mullen stated that the biggest change he would like is to remove the Highway Commercial overlay in the Conservation District south of Route 11 due to MS4 reasons.  He also asks that the large portion that is proposed changed to Suburban Residential from Agriculture to remain Agriculture because of the prime soils in that area. 

Robert Webber, Planning Commission member, commented that the Planning Commission’s recommendation was because there really is no other area for residential development.   

Mr. Mullen asked, in relation to the Intensive Farming area proposed, where is it to be.  Mr. Bennett stated that it should be within the circle.  Mr. Mullen stated that although the intention of the committee was misquoted, the circle identified what was presented.  He asked that this area be removed.  Theresa Hampton, Township Secretary mentioned that in going through past Planning Commission minutes, she found an amendment to the motion Mr. Bennett presented at the previous hearing for the plan.  The motion is as follows:  May 5, 2015 MOTION to amend: MOTION Cleve Hummel, second Forrest Bennett, after appropriate and necessary engineering and environmental studies are accomplished, recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the conservation and agriculture zones in the existing zoning ordinance be revised to provide a special zone to be established for “Intensive Agriculture Use” as recorded in the South West of the Township in the egg shaped area “Y1” on the map page 6 provided to the Planning Commission by professional consultant Michelle Brummer.  The Planning Commission thinks this is the most appropriate area to be zoned Intensive Agriculture and request immediate funding to allow the studies to be accomplished under the purview of the Planning Commission.  Motion carried unanimously.

Mrs. Hampton mentioned that this is possibly where the “proposed area” came from.  Mr. Mullen and Mr. Webber both recalled this information.

Mr. Webber said that if we now are going to consider this area, we need to now develop an actual plan where a specific area is delineated carefully.  The Planning Commission didn’t feel that they had the technological ability or the funds to do that. 

Solicitor Roberts stated that there will be an issue if it is proposed that sometime in the future to say that all these operations have to be in this particular area.  That will be an issue with the Agriculture Secure Area because the Agriculture Secure area law provides that you can’t unduly restrict farming practices.

Mr. Webber agrees that the Agriculture Secure area has the right to do that, and that they have to go through the normal zoning. 

Solicitor Roberts stated that he may have misunderstood.  He understood that they (Planning Commission) wanted to restrict these operations to the circled area.

Mr. Bennett explained that it was more to try to direct the operations to that area. 

Solicitor Roberts reiterated that it is to encourage that type of development without requiring it.  He also stated that the Township cannot adopt an ordinance that says this particular use can only be used in this particular location because the Agriculture Secure Area would prohibit us from doing that.  There was further discussion on this matter.

Solicitor Roberts will contact Michelle Brummer and Jerry Walls concerning this area.  Mr. Mullen then mentioned section 11 of the Plan.  He proposes a change in the last sentence:  change the word “provide” to “seek grants for” because it will be difficult for the Township to provide the funds. 

Lastly, Mr. Mullen suggests removing all reference concerning the removal of the Agriculture Security Areas in all aspects of the Plan. 

Mr. Mullen then mentioned that the 1990 Comprehensive Plan referenced the trailer courts and low income housing.  This present proposal does not.  He feels that we should somehow address the issues of low income housing.  No notable improvement/progress has been made since then and the concern/need continues and as such should be included in the Comprehensive Plan.  There was further discussion. 

Solicitor Roberts explained the next steps for the Plan.  He stated that the law provides that if substantial revisions are made, another public hearing will be needed, however, before that happens, the Board must come to a consensus as to what it wants to see or not see in the plan.  Then they must give direction to the Planner, Ms. Brummer, and the Planning Commission so the plan can be revised to meet what the consensus of the Board wants to see.  Then another hearing can be scheduled if needed.   

Mr. Mullen recommended tabling this matter until Ms. Ebright returns in July.  All were in agreement.



There is nothing new to report.



Solicitor Roberts mentioned that the Cohen Law Group had sent a draft of the Ordinance. There are a couple of minor changes that he will recommend to them. Copies have been given to the Supervisors for review.

Mr. Bennett mentioned that Verizon may have recently filed to be covered under PUC. There was further discussion on this matter.



There is nothing new to report.



Solicitor Roberts stated that he did some research and a donation to the library from the Township can be made.  The matter was tabled until Ms. Ebright returns and can give more information on the amount to be donated. 



Mr. Mullen mentioned that he will be attending a workshop in July.



As was voted on previously, Mike Hinkle, Road Foreman, looked into acquiring a new, quieter air conditioner for the Township meeting room.  In doing so it was discovered that the electrical supply for the unit is a 220 amp outlet and standard units are wired for 11 outlets.  A quote was received from Flick Brothers Electric in the amount of $695.  The previous approval was for $500.  He asked for approval to purchase the unit at the current amount.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett to purchase the air conditioner unit for the meeting room at a cost of $695.  Motion carried.





The Planning Commission submitted a recommendation to the Board to place a Riparian Buffer for the naturalization of the properties obtained by the Township after the 2011 flood.  They also suggested that grant programs be looked into for the funding.



Mr. Mullen mentioned that there has been some concern for the Township having too many keys for the various doors and locks in the building.  He suggested that the locks on the file cabinets in the office be changed.  The advantage of doing this is that there will be a limited amount of keys and we will know and keep track of who has them.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett to acquire new locks for the Township file cabinets and any other doors relevant to the security of the building.  Motion carried.



Tim Mauk, Zoning Officer, reported the following permits being issued;

Michael Hartman – Shed Permit

Crown Castle – Repair Permit

Forrest Bennett – Political Sign Permit

Larry & Beverly Troy – Solar Panel Permit

Grant Farr – Shed Permit

Robert & Darlene Beaver – Pool Permit

Steve Delbo – Used Auto Sales Permit


Permits Denied:

Charles & Jewel Gordner - Carport Permit. 


Mr. Mauk reported that the carport was installed without permits.  It was installed directly on the property line and when the application was submitted it was denied.  A denial letter was sent and received.  Mr. Mauk will contact Solicitor Roberts to send an enforcement letter. 

 A full report was submitted by Mr. Mauk.



Tim Mauk, Code’s Enforcement Officer, reported on the following code enforcement activities for the month of May 2016:

Mr. Mauk reported that on Indian Street there is a property what the grass is too high.  He knows who the owner is but has no contact information other than an address in Arizona.  He will send a letter to him informing him that the grass needs to be mowed. 

Mr. Mauk also received a complaint concerning someone at Indian Head Campground moving the Rip Rap along Fishing Creek.  He will defer this to DEP and let them deal with this matter.

The following are other issues he was involved with:

920 Grovania Drive – Garbage/litter

775 Grovania Drive – Accumulation of junk

640 Grovania Drive – Trailer fire/demolition

Lot #4 Perry Ave. – Garbage

A full report was submitted by Mr. Mauk.

Mr. Mauk also mentioned the Steering Committee that was previously brought up to help with revitalizing the trailer parks and other areas.  Mr. Mullen agreed that this should be organized.





Nothing new to report.



Chief Eckart submitted the following written report of activities for the month of May, 2016:

Fines issued - $2,752.00 – Montour Township

$1,665.00– Catawissa Township

39 Traffic Citations – Montour Township

27 Traffic Citations – Catawissa Township

3 Non-traffic Citations – Montour Township 

0 Non-traffic Citations – Catawissa Township

4 Criminal Arrests – Montour Township

1 Criminal Arrest – Catawissa Township

86 Incidents in Montour Township                       

31 Incidents in Catawissa Township

There was nothing new to add to this report.

Solicitor Roberts drafted a contract for Officer Bangs and addenda’s for Chief Eckart, Officer Hill and Officer Soboleski.  The addendas address the issue of the new regulations regarding overtime. 

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett to adopt the addendas with Chief Eckart, Corporal Hill and Tyler Soboleski as written.  Motion carried.

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett to approve the contract for Jared Bangs for full time officer with a salary of $33,280.  Motion carried. 

A MOTION was made by Mr. Mullen, seconded by Mr. Bennett to hire David Sanchez Jr. as part time police officer at a rate of $14.50 per hour contingent upon completion of job requirements with a 6 (six) month probation period.  Motion carried. 



Fire Chief Brian Fosse submitted a written report of Fire Company activities for the month of May, 2016.  

Chief Fosse requested to Mr. Mullen that the Township develop a Township emergency plan.  Mr. Mullen stated the Carmen Calleri, Montour Township EMC is out of town at this time, but he will speak with him about this matter when he returns.



There was no public comment at this time.



Mr. Mullen reported that the Montour Township Board of Supervisors will hold their next Monthly Meeting on July 14, 2016, at 7:30 p.m.

There being no further business to discuss, the Meeting was adjourned at 9:25 p.m., on a MOTION of, Mr. Bennett seconded by Mr. Mullen.  Motion carried.


Respectfully Submitted,                                                                                     

Theresa Hampton
Township Secretary

Danielle Berkes
Township Clerk