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Two Packerton Yards project development plans extended

Published June 27. 2012 05:02PM

Mahoning Township supervisors voted to accept a pair of extensions for land development plans submitted by the Carbon County Commissioners for the Packerton Yards project and the land currently owned by the Lehighton Water Authority which they need to secure a highway occupancy permit for the project. Both plans were unanimously extended until August 31, 2012 on 4-0 vote provided letters were submitted by Project Engineer Mike Tirpak with the corrected date. The original extension date was July 31, 2012 but supervisors were concerned with the timeline.

"Is an extension to the 31st long enough," Supervisor Frank Ruch asked Attorney Ed Hughes who was representing commissioners. He pointed out several of the parties including Hughes and Head Commissioner Wayne Nothstein had vacations as well as other officials in the next four weeks.

Nothstein humorously quipped, "If you accept our proposal, I only need one other vote [to get approval]," which brought a chuckle from everyone. He then said that in seriousness he was on vacation, Hughes had a vacation and he still needed to discuss with his board what the commissioners would propose to do to resolve the sidewalk issue and with the next township planning commission meeting on July 17th, he would be out of town. As the discussion continued, Nothstein finally said to the supervisors that the county would be fine with extending both plans until August 31st.

Tirpak told the supervisors that the Packerton Yards plan only has one outstanding issue which is how to deal with the sidewalks. The Authority plan though has several issues from the planning commission's review last week. Hughes added, "There are six to eight issues with that property." Tirpak said the main issues are adjusting the property line and the right of way for that property.

Supervisor Bruce Steigerwalt, who is also serving on the planning commission, informed Hughes and Tirpak that he had some of the original deeds on file in his professional files. He also had a copy of the one that deeded the property from railroad to the water authority. He told them the deed references easements on the properties for water lines and other leases are referred to in the document , but he did not have more specific information in his personal records.

Hughes asked if the plans showed any reference to the alleyway and Steigerwalt said he didn't see one on the original deed. He said some of the deeds had drawings with them but since then no one is sure what rights the individual owners currently have.

Supervisor Linda Benner inquired about what the plans were for the alleyway and why the county needed it. Nothstein said the county was acquiring the property so it could apply for the highway occupancy permit since the Lehighton Water Authority did not want to apply for the HOP and the county needed it for the project.

"Could anyone lose their homes down there?", asked Benner. Nothstein said "No." The only issue is the restriction on entering and exiting the dirt lane to right turn in and right turn out. Benner pointed out the only access to those properties are on that rear dirt road.

Steigerwalt said he observed that while the current county plans show a sliver of Water Authority property between the first property and the highway, it did not show on the old plan. Tirpak said the plan was surveyed by Keystone and they used the existing markers to create the plans used for the project. He added that the strip also shows on the PennDOT highway plans as well.

Chairperson John Wieczorek said he was open to the longer extension for the plan but asked the county resubmit letters with the corrected date for the pair of plans. Tirpak said he would see to it they would get the amended letters. The board voted 4-0 to approve the extensions until August 31, 2012 provided the corrected letters are received.

After the vote Wieczorek asked Tirpak for more information on some aspects of the plan. Specifically he asked Tirpak to provide information for the resolutions of the issue dealing with pedestrian walkways and signals along the highway. He also asked who was going to inspect the work between Route 209 and the railroad tracks to make sure the improvements made are properly done. "I just wanted to make sure the township engineer will monitor that work [between 209 and the railroad]."

Hughes said he believed that was the commissioners' intention.

Next Wieczorek wanted some clarification on was whether the sewer plan was reviewed and how it will be handled during the project. He said, "All facets of the project have been beaten to death, but I have yet to see any reference to the sewer plan." He asked if the authority was reviewing and approving it.

Tirpak responded by saying all the information is on the plan. Steigerwalt said that he understood that Mahoning's project engineer Tim Edinger was not appointed by the sewer authority and that while he is reviewing plans from the township's perspective using the land development ordinance Tirpak asked if the county should have an engineer review the plans. Steigerwalt said he just thought that someone should do it.

Tirpak said he was not sure what the municipal authority is planning to do to handle the installation and review of the sewer system in the project. Carbon Engineering who is the engineer of record with the Packerton Project is also the engineer for the Sewer Authority. Wieczorek suggested they should have that conversation with the authority as he felt it would be better to have a third party perform the review since CEI designed the plan's sewer module.

The final issue Wieczorek wanted to clear up was the comment Tirpak made during the planning commission meeting about the crossing where the sidewalks are being debated as having four or five tracks. Tirpak said he was referring to the original crossing which did have three tracks and two sidings nearer to Jamestown, but the current public crossing only has three tracks. He said the original crossing was rejected by the railroad so the county had to go with the second one.

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