Several North East Township residents again asked supervisors to clarify water and sewer rate issues at the Feb. 6 meeting of the board of supervisors.
“We have a right to know what we’re going to be facing,” said Aaron Fisher of Shadduck Road, who recently filed an injunction request against the ongoing sewer line extension project at the Erie County Courthouse.
Fisher’s request is the second filed to try and stop the sewer work now under way, which has been in the planning stages for several years. As of the meeting date, the township has not been served on either injunction request.
Supervisors authorized the township solicitor to handle the matter on behalf of the township last month.
Fisher said at the meeting that the Pennvest website shows sewer rates projected to increase 170 percent. Supervisors replied that the rate increase that went into effect this quarter is 17 percent.
Fisher and resident Jerry Haibach presented the News Journal with a copy of a letter to Pennvest seeking to have the project financing put on hold “until the legalities can be resolved on these issues.” Ninety-five residents signed a petition accompanying the letter, which asks the township to halt the sewer project until financial help becomes available.
The letter also states that conflict of interest papers have been filed with the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission. These allege that Valley Village mobile home park, owned by Supervisor Vernon Frye, will benefit from the construction, as will the son of Supervisor Dennis Culver, who lives on Shadduck Road.
At a recent meeting with the News Journal editor, Frye noted that the Valley Village sewer line is only scheduled for replacement because the diameter has to increase to handle flow coming from the new connections. The park has had municipal sewer since the early 1970s, he said.
Financial help is scarce, supervisors said. Grants the township qualifies for have been looked into, but most are very specific and have strings attached, they said, and state legislators also were unable to find funding.
The previous injunction request, filed by Gary Miles of East Lake Road, seeks to stop sewer line construction until at least April of this year, both because of the financial burden on homeowners and because of the work’s effect on the roads.
Supervisors previously scaled back the scope of the six-phase project. Connection fees include a tap-in fee expected to be below $10,000. Debt retirement charges are expected at around $40/month per affected household. Connection of the house to the sewer line is estimated at between $2,000 and $3,500. As was the case with prior sewer projects in the township, residents unable to pay connection fees will have liens filed against their property.
At the Feb. 6 meeting, supervisors agreed to increase fees for installation of storm drainage and driveway pipes. Pipes less than 30 inches in diameter will cost $10 per linear foot, up from $5 and the larger sizes will cost $20 per linear foot, up from $10. “We’re faced with higher costs,” Neff said. The charges are for installation only; pipe is purchased by the property owner.
Applications will be accepted through April 15 from property owners interested in placing their land into Agricultural Security Areas. More information is available by contacting Supervisor August Neff at 725-8606 or 882-4767.
As part of the seven-year review process for Agricultural Security Areas, supervisors will have both the township and county planning commissions see if any changes should be made. The matter will be revisited at the supervisors Feb. 20 meeting.
Supervisors will contact North East Borough regarding an update of the emergency management agreement. Both municipalities currently have designated Terry Thomson as their emergency management coordinator, and that would not change, supervisors said. “We need to make sure we have a copy on file,” supervisors said.
A request from Presque Isle Bike Club for a spring race training series along Sidehill, Moorheadville, Brickyard and West Law roads April 15, 22 and 29 received a tentative approval. Planners are to resolve issues with another bike club planning training the same days.
David Montgomery was appointed to a new 5-year term on the Water/Sewer Authority. David Foster, who has served on that authority for the past 40 years, plans to retire and supervisors ask that anyone interested in the vacancy should contact the township.
The annual township cleanup days have been set for Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12. Details will be announced later.
Individual wage tax returns are being mailed out, supervisors said, and residents who did not receive theirs are asked to call tax collector Martha Naeser at 725-4564 or download the forms at www.northeasttwp.org.
Illegal dumping of construction materials in the pit at Gravel Pit Park is a problem again. “We’ve had to clean this stuff up. DEP came in and took pictures,” Neff said. Only tree limbs and brush may be dumped there; treated lumber decking does not qualify, he added.
“We don’t have to have a place for people to dump (branches)” Frye said. “We can close it.” Residents who happen to see illegal dumping are asked to get license plate numbers.
Township facilities use requests were approved for the Penn State Agricultural Extension office for pesticide safety training on April 18 and for Hometown Veterinary Hospital’s rabies/distemper clinic on May 19 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Supervisors will meet again Monday, Feb. 20, at 9 a.m.