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Zip line project opposed

Published August 07. 2012 05:01PM

There was standing room only at the Penn Forest Township Supervisors' meeting last night, with residents opposed to a proposed zip line.

The crowd was made up mostly of residents of the Bear View Development.

According to Bill Miller, who was the first to address the supervisors, the residents want to stop a zip line that is being considered for the 400-plus acre parcel located to the back of the development.

Miller claimed that Supervisor Alan Katz had previously made a statement that a 2.3 percent incentive tax was going to be put in place to "push the zip line through." Katz, who attended the meeting via telephone, was not on line when the comment was made and therefore could not address it.

Chairmen Paul Montemuro addressed the group by explaining that there was currently nothing before the supervisors for their consideration. He added, however, that there was little the board could do.

"We cannot stop development," said Montemuro. "That is not our job."

Township solicitor Greg Mousseau tried to explain that the supervisors' meeting was not the right forum for this discussion and that the residents would be best served to take their concerns and questions to the zoning hearing board when the matter is on the agenda.

Miller demanded a guarantee that the residents would be notified of any hearing regarding the proposed zip line project. Mousseau explained that due process requires the residents whose properties are impacted be notified when a hearing is to take place. The zoning board also places notices in the local papers.

John Haas of Bear View also addressed the board. His main concern is the school bus stop. Montemuro agreed with Haas, that he too is concerned for the safety of the children with the current situation. The township however has no control over the bus stop placement, which is the responsibility of the school transportation director, Bill Juraka. The residents were directed to contact Juraka with their concerns.

William McAbeer and Ken Gilmore, of Pleasant Valley West, both addressed the supervisors regarding the deteriorated and non-paved roads in their development. According to McAbeers nothing but the most minor of repairs have been done to the roads in the development in the 16 years he has lived there.

Katz sympathized with the homeowners, but included that "caveat emptor applies here. You needed to do your homework before you bought your homes in developments that do not have homeowners associations."

Mousseau strongly suggested that each of the groups in attendance consider hiring an attorney who could advise them on their individual issues. The township cannot step in when the issue is between the homeowners and the developers. In addition, the township cannot consider the takeover of roads that do not meet township code. Roads must meet township code in order for the township to collect the liquid fuels money to maintain them.

After a brief executive session that was closed to the public, the meeting reconvened at which point the items on the agenda were discussed.

Katz addressed an issue concerning the Act 32 countywide earned income tax. Carbon County was one of several counties in the state that opted to use CENTAX to collect the earned income tax.

CENTAX was a new company that underbid its competition. CENTAX was fired by the county when it was discovered that they had failed to collect much of the taxes they were to collect. It is estimated that the uncollected revenue for Penn Forest Township alone is about $147,000.

The county has a lawsuit against CENTAX to collect the money owed, hoping to collect it from the bond CENTAX had posted. According to Mousseau, Carbon is one of several counties suing CENTAX and the bond may not be enough to cover all of the missed tax revenue.

The township is creating a new board under the Penn Forest Township Uniform Construction Code. The code calls for a board to be made up of a contractor, a professional (an expert in some area of the building trades) and a lay person. The township will be advertising to fill these positions.

A new amusement tax ordinance was presented to Mousseau for review. The ordinance should be presented to the supervisors for approval at the September meeting.

The supervisors also approved a reverse subdivision for a property in Hickory Run Forest.

Montemuro concluded the meeting by stating emphatically that the transfer station will be closed, without prior notice, when the weather is threatening. The station shut down briefly during Sunday's deadly storm and the township received complaints from residents who were turned away.

Montemuro stated that in light of the tragedy at Pocono Raceway during the same storm, they feel the safety of the employees is more important than the minor inconvenience to the residents. Several people were struck by lightning at the racetrack, and there was one fatality.

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