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Permits lacking at St. Ann's site

Published November 12. 2009 05:00PM

A Reading construction company that recently razed the former St. Ann's convent on Bertsch Street in Lansford and is remodeling the adjacent former school into subsidized apartments may owe the borough money for unpaid dumpster permit fees.

The company also is being warned to not place materials and equipment on the sidewalk or street.

Borough council on Wednesday learned that Dolan Construction Inc., had never applied for the necessary permits to have the trash receptacles at the site. Dumpster fees range from $30 to $50 a month, depending on the size. The permits are required for dumpsters that are placed on the street.

Council president Bob Gaughan initially called for zoning and code enforcement officer Katheryn Labosky to shut down the project if it lacked the required permits.

"If they have a dumpster on the street, pull the plug," he said.

However, he softened his stance after further discussion. Labosky expected to visit the site this morning to make sure the company is complying with borough rules. She'll also find out how many permits the company should have paid for.

Mayor Joseph Horvat said the borough lost a significant amount of money from the fees.

Further, the company is storing materials and equipment on the sidewalk and Kline Avenue, hampering residents from driveway access.

Police Chief John Turcmanovich said no one had complained about the matter. An e-mailed message was sent to the borough office, but Turcmanovich only learned about it at the public meeting Wednesday.

The materials are apparently being stored in the parking area of Kline Avenue and not blocking traffic.

Parking has long been a sore spot in the borough, Gaughan said.

"You bring in a 45-foot dumpster and drop it there. It takes up three parking spots and sits forever," he said.

In a related matter, council discussed whether the company even had permits to do the work.

"We had a hearing here not too long ago with those folks, and I think I asked that question how big is the project, and when do you anticipate starting ... quite honestly, we didn't get an answer to that question," Gaughan said.

Labosky said she would review the documents for the project.

The former convent was torn down to make way for 11 parking spaces for the residents of a 17-unit subsidized apartment building being created from the former St. Ann's school. The $3 million project, largely paid for through the federal office of Housing and Urban Development, is being done by the Diocese of Allentown and its Catholic Senior Housing and Health Care Services agency.

The apartments should be ready for tenants by mid-August. The demolition was done by The Building Recyclers, Kutztown, which will salvage and sell the wood, brick and other materials.

In other matters Wednesday:

• Councilman Tommy Vadyak asked solicitor Robert T. Yurchak whether it was a conflict of interest that a borough truck was taken for repairs to Krajcirik garage, where borough maintenance manager Toby Krajcirik works. Yurchak said it "has the appearance of a conflict of interest."

• Council may consider imposing a fee on Reading and Northern Railroad for storing rail cars.

The company is developing seven miles of line from the Arlington Yard into Lansford.

"Rumor has it they are going to use it for storage of rail cars," Gaughan said.

Last month, council discussed the matter and pondered what to do. Council agreed then to send a letter to the company asking it what it planned to do.

"Basically, they thumbed their nose at us," Gaughan said. He read aloud the company's response.

"Please rest assured that whatever actions we undertake will be done in full compliance with federal regulations," the letter said. "Moreover, if the borough is interested in our plans because it is aware of industries seeking rail service, please let us know and we will contact them."

With that, Gaughan crumpled the letter and tossed it to the floor.

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