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Packerton Yards appeal

Published February 01. 2013 05:04PM

Carbon County officials want a second opinion on opening a county road through the former Packerton Yards site in Mahoning Township and Lehighton.

On Thursday, the commissioners voted 2-0 to file an appeal to the Commonwealth Court on the decision by the Carbon County Court of Common Pleas that denied the county's request to open a road through the 59-acre proposed industrial park. Commissioner Thomas J. Gerhard was not at the meeting.

County solicitor Daniel Miscavige, who co-represented the county with attorney Edward Hughes in the case last December, explained that the county wants the decision reviewed and hopes to have a new ruling in six months.

On Jan. 18, Carbon County Judge Joseph J. Matika denied the county's request and ruled in favor of Mahoning Township supervisors, saying that the Carbon County code does not supersede the township's Subdivision and Land Development Ordinances, and upheld the township's denial for the project.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein, chairman, said the county now wants the decision reviewed because it brings into question whether the county has the right to construct county roads at all.

"I think it's quite clear in the county code that we can do county roads, so I think it's an issue should we have to do it anywhere else," he said. "Other counties do have roads that go through several municipalities and they cannot be governed by them (municipalities)."

He noted that the county has created a county road in East Penn Township in the past when a bridge was relocated.

"This could happen again so we need to clarify can we or can't we," Nothstein added.

In addition to the questions about county code, Nothstein said that the county will lose about $2 million in grants because of the extensive delays due to denials and the court decision.

The county needed to be moving ground on the property by April for the grant requirements.

In other matters, the board acted on the following items:

• Authorize the advertisements regarding the Community Development Block Program modification for Banks Township.

• Authorize the advertisements regarding the 2013 Community Development Block Program funds for entitlement and non-entitlement communities.

• Approve a cost revision to an engineering agreement developed by PennDOT between the county and Carbon Engineering for engineering services associated with the replacement of Carbon County Bridge 16, Koch Road, Towamensing Township. Revised total is $625,523.86, which increased under Part II Engineering and final design regarding right of way issues and supplemental surveying.

•Approve a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Wildlands Conservancy to act as the local project coordinator and complete all work necessary to produce and update the Lehigh River Watershed Conservation Management Plan relative to the DCNR Community Conservation Partnership Program grant in the amount of $49,500.

• Ratify an agreement for professional services with Raymond C. Geiger for a review of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's proposed Route 903 bridge project and the effect on county property and relative easements required for the project. The fee shall not exceed $2,400 to $4,800.

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