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Resident questions why empty properties receive garbage bills

Published April 14. 2010 05:00PM

Lower Towamensing Township's decision to hold residents who are delinquent on their garbage bills accountable has raised the ire of one resident.

Resident Donald Griffith questioned the township's board of supervisors on Tuesday why the township is billing residents for garbage rates on empty properties.

Griffith, who owns properties in both the township, as well as neighboring Palmerton Borough, told supervisors he doesn't believe taking such action is fair.

"Why is this being done? "There's a surplus of $27,000 at the end of the year, and I don't see any reason to be billing a person for services not rendered."

Township solicitor Jim Nanovic told Griffith $27,000 isn't a lot to have as a surplus, nor is that amount of money that is actually left over.

Nanovic said municipalities are allowed to bill unoccupied properties.

But, Griffith said he didn't agree with the measure, and said the situation was one which should be able to be resolved.

"It wouldn't cost the township any money, and it would give people a break," Griffith said. "I'm not the only one that this affects."

Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert said he's tried to get senior citizens a reduction in their garbage rates for the past few years.

Resident Leonard Borger said, he, too, was faced with the same problem as Griffith.

"I'm also being charged for an apartment that's empty," Borger said.

Walbert told Griffith and Borger that the supervisors would take their concerns under consideration.

Last month, supervisors agreed that township residents who owe $500 or more on their garbage rates would be sent to the district magistrate.

At that time, Walbert said the township was owed $31,408 in delinquency bills, and that out of the 63 residents who were delinquent on their garbage bills, 18 owed $500 or more.

Nanovic told supervisors past practice had been for the township to take the violators to the office of the district justice.

Also on Tuesday, supervisors held a public hearing on proposed agricultural use changes to the township's zoning ordinance.

Only one resident commented on the proposed amendments to the ordinance, which supervisors will advertise for adoption at their May 11 meeting.

The words "intensive agricultural activities are prohibited" that appear in several sections of the ordinance would be deleted and changed to say "intensive agricultural activities are prohibited except to the extent that this prohibition is preempted by state law."

Also, the regulation of manure storage would be revised so that all manure storage facilities will be set back a minimum of 100 feet and a maximum of 300 feet.

Nanovic previously said the township wants to consider the amendments to the ordinance in response to a complaint that says the current ordinance violates the Pennsylvania Nutrient Management Act.

A copy of the full text of the proposed ordinance is available for public review at the township Municipal Building, 595 Hahn's Dairy Road, Monday through Friday during regular business hours.

In an unrelated matter, Walbert announced that Blue Mountain Ski Area has agreed to increase its yearly contribution to the township from $25,000 to $40,000.

Walbert specifically thanked Barbara Green and the Tuthill Corporation for their act of generosity.

In other business, supervisors:

• Reviewed, but took no action on, a sketch plan presented by Brian Stroup for a 26-lot subdivision.

• Approved a 90-day extension for the Paul Berger subdivision.

• Tabled quotes received for a lift gate proposal for a township pick-up truck.

• Agreed to order clothing for township employees.

• Appointed Louise Koons as a Palmerton Area Library board member.

• Denied a request to provide traffic control to the Palmerton Rolling Cruise event.

• Approved a PPL right of way license agreement.

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