The Crematory Issue is Not Dead.
At the close of the regular Peters Township Council meeting, township Manager Michael Silvestri announced that Audia Group, LLC has appealed Council’s unanimous decision to deny its request for an amendment to the zoning ordinance which would allow its client, Danielle Belusko, to operate a crematory in Peters Township.
Silvestri said that Belusko has also filed a lawsuit against council on this same matter and commented that there has already been notice from interveners, such as from the law firm of K&L Gates.
After the meeting, council adjourned to a private executive session to discuss the notice of legal action that they received.
Councilwoman Monica Merrell told Peters Patch that the executive session gives council the opportunities to review the issues involved in the appeal and lawsuit, and to discuss with the township solicitor what legal tactics and arguments can be used to approach the impending legal actions.
Fruecht Pleads His Case for License Plate Reader System.
PTPD Chief Harry Fruecht addressed council regarding privacy concerns related to the implementation of a license plate reading system for use by the PTPD.
Fruecht said that in instances where the system was cracked in other jurisdictions, it was the websites, not the records themselves, which were hacked into. Furthermore, Fruecht said, these instances represent a breach on the part of the webhost, not on the part of the individual police departments of the equipment itself.
Fruecht was joined at the meeting by Washington County District Attorney Steve Toprani, with whom he said he is working to come up with a comprehensive multi-municipality policy pertaining to the use of license plate reader equipment.
Resident Ron Books expressed numerous concerns regarding the equipment, such as concerns about hacking, consistency of use, encryption level and cost.
When Books told council that he thought the reading equipment was too old and that biometric devices should be used instead, Councilwoman Merrell noted that the reader tells police which cars to stop while the biometrics measures would be used on every car that is stopped, making biometric technology more invasive and, therefore, undesirable in the township.
Onward and Upward with Approved Construction Plans.
By unanimous vote, Council approved a sewing planning resolution for St. Clair hospital construction, whereby a sewage facility planning module plan will be submitted to the Department of Environmental Protection to add St. Clair Hospital for sewage service to the Donaldson’s Crossroads Treatment System.
Also presented was the St. Clair Hospital lot consolidation plan, which calls for the consolidation of combing 7 lots into one lot. The plan was approved by council, subject to obtaining a PennDOT highway occupancy permit.
Though the possibility of including or providing for a pedestrian crossing path across Route 19 was discussed at great length, council decided that it was not feasible to put a crossing path in this area.
In other construction news, council unanimously voted to award low bidder Estherlee Fence, out of Ohio, the fence bid for the park expansion project proposed for Peterswood Park. Estherlee’s bid was $96,486, which Silvestri said fits well within the estimated project budget of $186,000, with room left over for other improvements, such as garbage cans.
The project aims to put fencing and backstops along the five ballfields in Peterswood Park.
Good News for Good Causes.
During the meeting, a representative from the Muscular Dystrophy Association presented firefighter Gary Zimak, who represented the PTFD at the meeting, with a Proclamation honoring the PTFD for its participation in the 2010 Fill the Boot campaign for the MDA.
Zimak reported that the PTFD raised $11,000 by its efforts in 2010, and hopes to raise $13,000 this year. He noted that members of the PTFD will be out on highly trafficked roads and locations this weekend, to collect for this year’s campaign.
Good news came to other good causes at the meeting, with council’s approvals to grant Central Blood Bank a permit for a bloodmobile event at Bruster's on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 12–5 p.m.; and to fund no-cost flu shots during this year’s MEIT wellness program, which will also provide free blood tests to MEIT employees and their spouses.
Council Responds to Service Agreements.
Council approved a franchise agreement with Comcast. Assistant township Manager Paul Lauer explained that this agreement basically operates to level the competitive playing field with Verizon. It most significantly differs from the agreement with Verizon, Lauer said, in that it doesn’t include free drop services up to 300 feet, but rather only up to 125 feet.
Council noted how this would affect residents whose homes are more than 300 feet from existing lines, recognizing that such residents could still be serviced by Verizon.
Other service issues included council’s approval of an ordinance to extend the corporate life of the PT Sanitary Authority to August 2040 for the purposes of being able to borrow funds for the construction of the Donaldson’s Crossroads Sewage Treatment Plant.
Also discussed in great detail was the proposal from North Strabane Township to increase the joint coverage between their fire department and the PTFD. Chief Dan Coyle updated council on his findings as per the feasibility of expanding joint response to include the midnight shift.
Residents Drill Council on Marcellus Shale Matters.
Three PT residents raised Marcellus Shale drilling concerns with council.
Jet Miskis asked council about the type of notice residents would receive after the Department of Environmental Protection issues drilling permits, and whether it would give residents enough time to list and sell their homes if they wanted to.
Councilman Robert Atkison told Miskis that the bottom line is that as many as several months would pass from the time the permit is applied for and the time the final decision is made about the site, which would presumably afford time for residents to make real estate decisions.
Anne Shaner urged council to research about the regulation of gathering lines, which she said are not currently regulated and could present explosion risks.
Charles (Mike) Coligure, a combat veteran residing at 119 Linksview Drive, told council that he thinks PT residents will face eminent domain issues, and that the township itself will face threats of lawsuits from gas and drilling companies, with regard to Marcellus Shale drilling.