The West Penn Township planning commission accepted the Act 537 draft for review on Tuesday evening at the municipal building.
Act 537 is part of the Clean Streams Law created to regulate sewage and other pollutants that go into the waters of Pennsylvania, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is requiring for something to be done about the more than 200 failing waste systems secreting raw sewage in the waterways of Andreas, Clamtown, Reynolds, Snyders and South Tamaqua.
To get its comments and recommendations in order, the planning commission has a 60-day review period to evaluate the project's documents, during which time it has the option to question Township Engineer Ronald B. Madison, PE about the proposed plans to install public sewage facilities in the listed areas.
Many homes in the plan's study areas, Madison said, either contain cesspools or have no septic facilities, issues that need to be addressed in order to meet DEP's standards.
Affordability, though, is the million dollar word in this $11 million project. Madison said that the sewer committee expresses its doubts about the plan because of its cost, and unless a 90 percent grant is received for the project, it recommends holding off on the project until adequate funding can be secured.
Thus far, available grant options range from 45 to 75 percent.
Income surveys will likely be conducted in the areas, according to Madison, which will determine the amount of the grant, and the lower the income, the higher the amount. Once the waste systems are functioning, residents will be required to pay maintenance fees to cover whatever debt remains.
A 30-day review period will also be set aside for the public to review the plans, at the end of which will be a public meeting. Individuals, however, are limited to only voicing their comments during the meeting and are not permitted to ask questions, so the public will not be getting any feedback on its concerns at that time.
Based on comments and recommendations from everybody (the board of supervisors, the sewer committee, the planning commission and the general public), the plans will either be revised or submitted to DEP for approval.
The documents will be available to the public at West Penn and Walker Townships' municipality buildings, but Walker will also have them on its website.
The review period as well as the time and place of the meeting will soon be announced in the TIMES NEWS.
In addition to Tuesday's meeting, two plans to add subdivisions were accepted for review.
The first was to add a trailer on Thomas W. Smith's property on Penn Drive on Route 443, and the second was to add a lot on Cynthia and Steven Hatton's property near Route 309.
Next planning commission meeting is on Sept. 27 at the municipal building.