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'Dead' ordinance is alive again in Bowmanstown

Published October 07. 2009 05:00PM

At the Tuesday meeting of Bowmanstown Borough Council, chairman Burdell Steigerwalt said the municipal waste ordinance he had declared dead in September could be revived just by bringing it up for discussion again. It had come up as the first item on the Sept. 29 agenda - there was no motion either favorable or unfavorable, which was when he said it was dead.

Members of the Bowmanstown Area Action Committee were on hand at the Oct. 6 meeting to present more information. Kara Scott, chairman, had a memo drafted by the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund, which also drafted the ordinance in question, to explain one of the points that worried councilmen. It was their personal liability if the ordinance is challenged.

Scott said anyone could sue - we (the committee) could sue the council if it thought the council was not working toward providing protection of the health, safety and welfare of borough residents. (There are no plans for the committee to sue.)

However, it would have to be that the lack of protection was due to an intentional violation of the law. If council is doing what is right and fair they will not be held liable. That would be the case also if the ordinance is challenged.

Steigerwalt asked if they wanted to review the memo or turn it over to Solicitor Jim Preston.

Scott said the council should review it. The solicitor is there for the council, not for the residents.

Councilman Ernie Guldner said the solicitor should review it even if it is discussed at the meeting.

Scott asked if the committee could get feedback before the next meeting and was told it could.

"These are our homes, not his (the solicitor's). We hope you will represent our needs, not his," said Scott.

She mentioned a case in Massachusetts where 100 people were sent to a hospital as a result of a problem at a transfer station. "People will have to die before Duane Schleicher's transfer station will be investigated," she said. She asked if she could provide highlights of the memo.Councilman Pam Leiby said she should go ahead.

Scott said, following the wording in the memo, that any change involves risks but the risks of the ordinance are minimal. Officials are not to blame unless they are doing something clearly wrong. Acting in good faith will stand up in court.

The waste ordinance has been upheld in court by focusing on the actor (the corporation) rather than what is being done.

Steigerwalt said the solicitor would be invited to the Oct. 27 meeting.

In other business:

Council is looking for grant projects for a possible Home Depot grant. Suggested were recreation items.

Court hearings against Duane Schleicher are scheduled for Oct. 14, 1:15 p.m. and Nov. 4, 3 p.m.

Councilman Chad Everett said he is curious as to why people have to pay for a permit to repair or place new curbing at the direction of council. He said he has talked to other municipalities and many do not require a permit for ordered work.

Councilman Norman Engle said his brother did not receive a letter about curbing on Forge Street, one of those to be paved in 2010. "I told him he should check if he needs a repair permit."

Mayor Keith Billig said he thinks anything over 10 feet needs a permit.

Steigerwalt said the ordinance needs to be revised.

Leiby said both the burning ordinance and parking ordinance were ready to be advertised. Council voted to do so on both of them.

Property chair Troy Muffley got approval to purchase a cigarette butt receptable for $48 to be placed outside the borough hall. It needs to be emptied once a week.

He recommended sidewalks outside the hall be revisited in the spring. There is a lack of funding to do the repair job now.

Everett said he and councilman William Ravert inspected the sewer plant and everything was properly cleaned up.

Guldner reported the last of the patching was done on the roads the day of the meeting.

Trick or treat will be held Wednesday, Oct. 28, 6-8 p.m., said Billig. The fire police will be called out to make sure children are safe.

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