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Parryville zoning officer charges council signed illegal agreement with Riverwalck Saloon owner

Published April 24. 2013 05:03PM

Parryville Council opened its meeting on Tuesday night by allowing the public to make comments and the comments flew fast and furious from Zoning Officer Dick Fedor as he defended his position as the town's zoning officer.

Fedor said council did not have the authority to control the zoning officer or the zoning hearing board and that by attempting to do so they were breaking the law.

"You have two choices, you can hire me or you can relieve me of my duties," said Fedor.

Fedor said that council's offer to allow him to do only residential zoning was illegal.

Fedor has been at odds with council president Mike Grant ever since council signed a confidential agreement with Mark W. Stemler, owner of Riverwalck Saloon that Grant said was in the best interests in the borough to avoid costs of litigation and resolves issues between the borough and Stemler.

Grant said the agreement gave the borough a clean slate with Stemler.

The agreement was signed by Grant on Dec. 19, 2012, and by Stemler on Dec. 24, 2012.

Fedor said that council has no right to interfere in zoning matters.

"The best place for this agreement is in the restroom," said Fedor. "You insulted my intelligence and you insulted my integrity."

Fedor continued, "You signed an illegal agreement."

In an associated move, Grant read a resignation email from Duane Dellecker, who resigned as the Building Code Inspector and alternate zoning officer immediately.

Dellecker said that he was resigning his position in the borough of Parryville because it put his license on the line. Dellecker's email said that the settlement agreement between the borough and Stemler prohibits him from doing his job.

This is the body of the email, "Recently, the Borough of Parryville signed a settlement agreement by and between the borough and Riverwalck Salloon. This agreement prohibits me from performing my duties as Building Code Official (BCO) with properties owned by Mr. Mark Stemler.

The PA department of Labor and Industry recognizes me as the BCO for all borough activities governed by state law (Act 45 of 1999, the PA Uniform Construction Code UCC) and the agreement actually waives or otherwise exempts Mr. Stemler from compliance with the UCC by overriding all enforcement actions taken by my office. As the duly appointed BCO for the Borough of Parryville the agreement places me in a very difficult situation.

Unfortunately, should anyone file a complaint with the Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) regarding the activities at the Riverwalck Salloon, L&I will put me and my license on the hot seat. I cannot and will not allow my livelihood to be put in jeopardy due to an agreement that prohibits me from performing my duties as required under state law.

Having served the borough since the inception of the PA UCC in 2004, and for 15 years plus as alternate zoning officer, it is with much regret that I tender my resignation as "Building Code Official" and "Alternate Zoning Officer" for the Borough of Parryville effective immediately. It has been my pleasure to serve the needs of the residents of the borough for these many years.

I will fill out the proper form and notify L&I of this decision. Thank You.

Duane A. Dellecker, BCO"

Dellecker said in a phone conversation that he has worked for the borough of Parryville since 2004 and never once sent a bill for his zoning duties. "I can't serve under those conditions," said Dellecker.

"You would think they would listen to my judgment," said Dellecker. "I contacted Harrisburg and they said that I'd be at fault if I remained with the borough. I need that license to make a living."

Fedor's and Dellecker's charges are because of one section of the agreement that directly names them along with Shawn Corey as no longer allowed to be involved in any way, directly or indirectly with Stemler, his business and or property at 8 Centre Street, Parryville, or any other property owner, possessed or occupied by Stemler.

The agreement states that Stemler shall submit all future building and construction applications through a third party official/inspector approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The agreement also notes that Stemler shall only be responsible for payment of the borough's permit fees for any application and shall not be liable for any engineering fees assessed or charged by the borough's building code official (who shall not be Richard Fedor, Duane Dellecker or Barry Issett and Associations, in any event).

When asked for a vote to accept Dellecker's resignation, council members Jennifer Borger, Sharon Keiser, and Cathy Hawk would not make a motion.

Borger said that she was in disagreement with Dellecker's leaving because of his expertise.

She also noted that she was not in agreement to relieve Fedor of his duties.

"Fedor knows this borough," she said. "I know that as a council member I am not familiar with zoning issues like I should be, but I know we can't lose him because he knows his job."

Also speaking was Kathy Wolter, a member of the Parryville Planning Commission.

"Does this agreement mean that we will have to have a member of Riverwalck on the planning committee?" asked Wolter.

She said she questioned the agreement between the borough and Stemler setting the ratio of seats to parking spaces at 3.5.

"No one can change that according to the agreement," said Wolter. "For two years we've picked through the ordinances to see how each line would affect everyone. This agreement is a kick in the teeth."

Wolter also commented on Dellecker's resignation, "Duane was an integral part of the new ordinances. I'm at a loss here."

Other members of the community raised concerns about the agreement, yelling from the back of the room until an executive session was called for personnel issues. One person said that Stemler's goal was to "fragment the borough."

During the period of the executive session, everyone who had been inside the meeting waited in front of the building and could hear raised voices for at least 10 minutes before voices were lowered. The executive session continued for at least another 20 minutes.

After the meeting was reconvened, Grant said the issue to continue having Fedor as the zoning officer or relieving him of duty was tabled until next month. No action was taken on accepting Dellecker's resignation.

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