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Owners of unoccupied properties granted relief on garbage bills

Published September 15. 2010 05:00PM

Lower Towamensing Township residents who have unoccupied properties have been granted relief on their garbage bills.

The township's board of supervisors on Tuesday unanimously adopted a garbage exempt form for residents who have properties that are unoccupied for six months.

As per the form, residents who have properties that are unoccupied for six months will be exempt from having to pay their garbage bills until the unit is again occupied.

However, residents must notify the township in writing immediately and request that garbage fees begin as soon as their property becomes occupied.

In the event residents fail to notify the township that the property is occupied, and the township finds out by anybody other than that particular resident, they will not only owe the garbage fees from the date that the property becomes occupied, but will also owe the garbage fees from the date of the request and that any exemption granted by the supervisors shall be null and void.

Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert said he read over the document created by township solicitor Jim Nanovic.

"I personally feel comfortable with six months," Walbert said.

Supervisor Todd Solt said he would go along with the plan as well.

"I feel it should be less, but that's [six months] what most other municipalities use," Solt said. "So, I'll go along with it."

Resident Don Griffith expressed his satisfaction with the action taken by supervisors.

"I'd like to thank you for doing something with the garbage ordinance," Griffith said. "I commend you."

The decision comes one month after supervisors tabled a motion to grant residents a six-month waiting period to pay their garbage bills on unoccupied properties after it was defeated due to a lack of a second.

In July, supervisors said they might make an amendment to the ordinance. That came after supervisors in March agreed to hold residents who are delinquent on their garbage bills accountable by billing them for garbage rates on empty properties.

At that time, supervisors agreed that township residents who owed $500 or more on their garbage rates would be sent to the district magistrate. Walbert said at that time the township was owed $31,408 in delinquency bills, and that out of 63 residents who were delinquent on their garbage bills, 18 owed $500 or more.

Also on Tuesday, supervisors unanimously approved an implementation agreement between Lower Towamensing and Towamensing Township.

Roy Christman, a member of the Towamensing Township Planning Commission, told supervisors he and Angela Farrel, a member of the Lower Towamensing Township Planning Commission, shortened the agreement and sent it to the attorneys who represent each of the township's for their review.

Christman said the comments from the attorneys have been incorporated into the draft.

"I'm hoping you approve it tonight," Christman said. "I believe Towamensing will approve it [later this month]."

Nanovic said he felt comfortable with the agreement.

Walbert lauded Christman for his work.

"Roy, you did a great job shepherding this," Walbert said. "Hopefully, Palmerton and Bowmanstown will come on board at some point."

Last month, supervisors met to further discussion on the agreement as part of the Palmerton Area Comprehensive Plan. Also on hand for the meeting were members of both the Lower Towamensing and Towamensing Township planning commissions, as well as the Towamensing Township board of supervisors.

At that time, Lower Towamensing supervisors, as well as Towamensing Township supervisors, agreed to move forward with the agreement.

In July, Lower Towamensing agreed to name township planning commission members Gerry Madden and Farrel to a steering committee of the plan.

Christman said that in March 2009, the comprehensive plan was approved for Palmerton, Bowmanstown, Towamensing Township and Lower Towamensing Township.

Since then, Christman said he's pitched the idea for the agreement as per the plan that would enable the municipalities to possibly apply for grants. Both Palmerton and Bowmanstown have rejected the idea.

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