Trial held in Rush street dispute; decision pending
A non-jury trial was held Thursday in Schuylkill County court on the complaint of Rush Township supervisors against a property owner who erected an impediment placed at the entrance of an alley known as Walnut which intersects with South Street in Hometown.
The township wants to court to order William D. Boyer, 105 Ryon Avenue, to remove the impediments placed across the right-of-way of the alley located in back of the Boyer home and also seeks costs and fees for the court action.
Judge Cyrus Palmer Dolbin, after the conclusion of the one day trial, gave both sides the rest of December to file briefs to court and the court will hand down a decision sometime early in January 2013.
Supervisor Robert Lechleitner Jr. testified they had requested Boyer to remove the barriers consisting of tree limbs and brush laid across the roadway and stakes placed in the ground with a chain blocking entrance into Walnut Street but Boyer refused.
Lechleitner testified Tamaqua borough vehicles cannot enter the alley to service manholes which are part of a sewer system underneath the roadway and also emergency vehicles, fire trucks, utility vehicles of a cable company and electric light company, are denied entrance.
He cited the recent Hurricane Sandy, which knocked over a large tree which damaged power lines and the area was without electric service for a few days, caused a detour to reach the area and borough trucks attempting to clean up debris had to use the other end of the alley and back up several hundred feet. He claimed the barrier presented a dangerous condition to the community.
Boyer did not deny placing the barrier. He testified he lost patience with the township as he made several visits to the municipal building trying the find out who owned the street and when he could not get answers put up the barrier to get their attention and also to stop cars from parking in the area overnight. He claims the street is unpaved and there is no traffic on it.
He said it is grass covered and he cuts the grass fronting his backyard. He said the township does not plow the street in the winter.
Lechleitner testified the township, by resolution on April 2, 1981, accepted dedication of the street and that if there were emergency needs to enter the street the township would plow the road.
Also testifying for the township were, Darlene Fenstermacher, township secretary-treasurer, who presented official documents showing the project for installing the sewer line in the southwest area of Hometown which included Walnut Street.
William McMullin, who served as project manager for the sewer installation, John H. Schickram, former supervisor, whose backyard also fronts Walnut Street, testified about the obstructions.
Michael Smetara testified that when the Morgan Knitting Mill operated in the area employing 1,000 people many employees used Walnut Street to drive to and from the plant.
Michael DePaulo testified about the layout of the streets and that the homes fronting Ryon Avenue that their backyard ended abutting Walnut Street.
Charles Hammer, a neighbor of Boyer's, testified for Boyer that there never was any heavy traffic on Walnut Street.