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Bowmanstown council says CELDF ordinance can't be discussed until court decision is received

Published December 02. 2009 05:00PM

Kara Scott, president of the Bowmanstown Area Action Committee, spoke at the Monday meeting of Bowmanstown Borough Council hoping to get favorable action on an ordinance written by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund to stop a transfer station.

Council president Burdell Steigerwalt said council's opinion had not changed and they planned to accept their solicitor's advice and not vote in favor of it.

Scott said if no action was to be taken the committee would have to develop a back-up plan. "You are here to protect us," she said.

Councilman Norman Engel said they had contacted the Pennsylvania State Borough Association which declined to comment. Engle considers portions of the ordinance "ticklish."

Scott said no one ever pointed out particular sections the council consider a problem. She has said several times that they could be changed to suit council.

Solicitor Jim Preston said someone from CELDF told them there might be a problem. He said in his opinion it contravenes state law.

Scott said if council passed it in good faith it cannot be held liable, but Preston said passing it against his advice would mean there was no good faith. He said there was no problem with adopting an ordinance but with the enforcement.

"It's my right to protect my community. Your (Preston's) job is to make sure state regulations are followed," said Scott. "It is working in other communities."

She said the committee researched the issue and asked what council members have done. Most said they read it - some repeatedly.

Engel said the matter with Duane Schleicher has been heard in court by Judge Roger Nanovic with an opinion expected by mid January.

Preston said since it is in court council should not be discussing it. The ordinance is specifically against a landowner in the borough.

Mayor Keith Billig asked if, since Scott did not like the advice of the solicitor, she thought he should be fired and replaced by someone who would support the ordinance.

"He's doing his job as solicitor but council members should be able to think on their own," said Scott.

Ravert said any discussion could affect the court opinion and council and the people have to let it work its way through the system.

Billig said Schleicher's rights as a borough landowner have to be defended too.

In other business: Carl Walck asked how many equivalent dwelling units of sewage were available at the former paint factory. Ravert said it had been five and remained there because a request to lower it when the factory closed wasn't followed up.

Ravert said Secretary Tracy Burbage should check fuel prices to see if the borough can get a better price.

A matter of a leaky sewer line was to be considered in executive session because of the possibility of litigation. After the session a resolution was approved giving a person 10 days to correct a problem in the laterals leading into the home or business.

Billig vetoed the burning ordinance by not signing it. He has until Dec. 29 to return it with comments. He said he is acting in accordance with the borough code.

Preston said assessing residents of Craig Street on the Lower Towamensing side requires title work. A section of the street had been offered to the residents who turned the offer down.

East Penn Township, which will send sewage to Bowmanstown, has not yet adopted a quality control ordinance.

Engineer Ted Stevenson received notice of Community Development Block Grant meetings. He will prepare a project for application including further work on Lime Street.

The borough still has $73,100 which has to be used by June. It is for Lime Street work and erosion control. Engel is concerned that the date will not be met and the money will be lost. The conservation district held up the work for 14 months, said Engle.

A meeting of a proposed Blue Mountain Council of Governments will meet on Dec. 10, 6 p.m. in Lehighton. Council members who are interested may attend.

Billig said he sent people going door to door to the borough office for a solicitation permit which costs $1, but does not believe they went. Since residents call when people solicit, an ordinance is being prepared.

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