Ralpho Township meeting

Ralpho Towsnship Supervisor Steve Major, who serves as chairman, swears-in David Tomtishen as a full-time police officer with Ralpho Township at Tuesday’s regular monthly meeting. The officer was hired last month by the board.

ELYSBURG — The Ralpho Township Board of Supervisors have agreed to use $69,445 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the fiscal year 2018 to mitigate flooding near West Center Street.

On the advice of Linda Sterling, project coordinator of community development for SEDA-COG, and township engineer Brad Aurand, the board voted to certify the name of the project as the “West Center Street Flood Mitigation Project,” pending survey results. Voting in favor were supervisors Blaine Madara Jr., Vincent Daubert, Stephen Major and Dan Williams. Supervisor Blaine Madara Sr. abstained because he lives in the area.

Project funds must improve the quality of life and meet one of three criteria: urgent need, elimination of blight and benefit low/moderate income families.

Past CDBG funds were used for Phase I of a stormwater project, which corrected water deficiencies in the “south channel” near South Market Street by removing debris, installing rip-rap and capping the top of stable sections to prevent water intrusion and vegetation growth. Supervisors had perviously expressed interest in completing the next phase of the project, known as the “north channel,” located east of North Market Street and North of Center Street, which would have involved securing right-of-ways and easements from about 10 properties.

Prior to the vote, Sterling informed the board that she and Aurand viewed the area near the north channel and concluded some property owners may not perceive a problem, adding that there is established landscaping and other features that would need to be removed. Aurand noted that the channel is already well maintained.

She told the board that a project name needed to be certified at the meeting and that it could not be changed once approved.

In related business, Sterling followed-up on a request by a resident affected by the south channel project who had requested the township install a split three-rail fence for safety purposes and has since demanded the project be “un-done” and his yard returned back to pre-construction status.

She reminded the board that the township provided the resident choices for fencing and that he chose a type of fence that existed prior to construction, but later requested his yard be restored.

A letter, sent by township solicitor Todd Kerstetter and signed by Sterling on behalf of the township, has since been sent to the resident explaining ample time was provided to clearly state intentions and that he failed to do so. The letter also included wording that if the township decided future action is needed it would be done without his input.

The board then approved a motion for a construction change order in the amount of $5,300 for split three-rail fencing.

In other business, Kerstetter recommended to the board that they re-approve the “Via Dante subdivision” because the developer would not meet the 90-day timeframe to record the plan due to township recently receiving a developer’s agreement and bond.

The subdivision, which would create four new lots along Hillside Avenue, was approved 3-2 in April with supervisors Madara Sr. and Daubert dissenting. Supervisors and township officials held an extensive discussion at that meeting over concerns that some developers are “transferring the burden” of building retention basins to the homeowners, leaving the township without escrow funds to review future plans.

The Via Dante developer’s agreement requires a bond of $1,000 for each on-lot storm water management system, for a total of $4,000.

The subdivision was re-approved 4-1 with Madara Sr. voting against.

“I just have issues,” he commented prior to the vote.

Code enforcement officer Mark Lyash informed the board that a draft of an amendment to the storm water management ordinance that would add subdivisions as an “regulated activity” is under review by the Planning Commission.

“This doesn’t let (developers) off the hook,” Lyash said.

The board also approved hiring MA Landscaping at a cost of $865 for tree and shrub cutting around the municipal complex. At the beginning of the meeting, Major, who serves as chairman, swore-in David Tomtishen as a full-time police officer with the township. The officer was hired last month by the board.

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