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SUPERVISORS NEED WILSON HILL ROAD KEPT OPEN DURING REPAIRS

SUPERVISORS NEED WILSON HILL ROAD KEPT OPEN DURING REPAIRS
BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 – PIKE COUNTY DISPATCH

DINGMANS FERRY – PennDOT might close Wilson Hill Road completely for two years for extensive repairs, but he township supervisors have taken a stand against closing it.  The supervisors are notifying PennDOT that they are opposed to that option.  Another option involves turning the road into a one-way thoroughfare so work can be done to correct the dangerous, deteriorating conditions, particularly on the lower Deep Hollow part of the hilly, curved road.  A third option calls for a temporary traffic light that will alternate the traffic from each direction onto one lane while work is done on the other.

The road is a popular connector for commuters looking to get to Route 209 and the Dingmans Bridge for jobs in New Jersey.  Many shoppers take it to get to Milford or south to Monroe County.  Closing that road would leave already busy Route 739 as the only crosstown route to link major north/south roadways.  “We want to keep it open for safety and secondary access for emergency responders,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson.

The township learned of those options in a communication from state Rep. Rosemary Brown’s office and decided to act after lengthy discussion during their workshop session.  They unanimously passed a motion during the regular meeting to forward a letter of their objection and another letter jointly drafted by township interim Emergency Management Coordinator George Beodeker and volunteer Fire Chief Chris Kimble articulating their objections that they submitted to the township.  Both letters will go to Brown, PennDOT engineer George Roberts and Mike Mrozinski of the Pike County Planning Commission.

“There are 7,000 people living in the township.  I’d like to see 3,000 people write letters to Rosemary Brown, George Roberts, the county planning commission and county offices,” Beodeker said.

“If they close this road, it’s the worst thing you could ever do,” Ron Hough told the supervisors during the workshop.  “We’ll do everything to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Henderson said.

In the letter, Beodeker and Kimble favored the temporary traffic light idea that would allow the fire department to change the light and traffic flow for an emergency response along that road.  Part of the road straddles National Park service territory.

Supervisor Jane Neufeld said the township should continue pressing for a meeting after PennDOT refused to attend a previous meeting because the decision come from a higher level of command.  Henderson voiced a comment similar to the letter that said, “It is our belief that if the road is closed for a period of up to two years, a significant possibility exists that the closure will become permanent due to a variety of permitting and jurisdictional issues that are ever present when dealing with the requirements of the National Park Service and agencies of the Commonwealth that deal with funding for rural area road projects.”

Using Route 739 as a connector would take significantly longer.  The letter indicates that fire apparatus gets down Wilson Hill Road better and faster than Route 739.  “If PennDOT will close Wilson Hill Road, will they talk about repairing Chestnut Ridge Road?”  asked resident Kim Greene.  “If there is an emergency on that side of town, there aren’t a lot of options.” 

Resident Karen Hagan asked who would pay for the temporary traffic light if it is used and was told by the supervisors it would be provided by the state.  She also talked about starting a petition and Henderson said it could hurt or help the cause or have no effect at all or could rub someone from PennDOT the wrong way.

Recreation Parks Board Created

Also at the meeting, the board approved amended Ordinance 2012-14 on creating a township recreation parks board.  It came right after a public hearing that drew only one question asking the board to elaborate on the changes.  The supervisors said a key change establishes that the recreation committee is not in charge of facilities and raising funds.  Those duties rest with the supervisors.

The board, which already had appointed the first set of five committee members, moved during the meeting to advertise for letters of interest for another vacant seat.  The board also moved to allow the rec and parks board to create a Facebook page, but Supervisor Rick Koehler said the township also should have a role in it.

Entrepreneurs Lisa and Jeremy Bowman from Bucks County appeared before the board asking to allow them to take three condemned log cabins.  They had just arrived at the meeting from Akenac Park where they went to inspect six cabins condemned for removal, which includes using them for firefighter training and said they planned to comeback alter in the week to identify which cabins they wanted.

Township Administrator Krista Predmore said that obliging the couple would eliminate the cost of carting away the razed buildings and said a decision allowing them to do it would have to be made soon.  “The log cabins are the ones we’re interested in,” Lisa Bowman said.  “We’re asking for time.  We’re moving on this as quickly as we can.  We’re having one company come in to look at it.”  Township Roadmaster Vince Flatt said the township fire department already scheduled the first three cabins for drills on Sept. 30 and then singular ones on Oct. 21 and Nov. 21.

They invited the Bowman’s to come to their budget workshop on Wednesday this week to further discuss the matter.

Ordinance Changes Lay Groundwork For Medical Marijuana Operations

Ordinance Changes Lay Groundwork For Medical Marijuana Operations
By Wayne WItkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, August 30, 2018

DINGMANS FERRY – At its regular meeting last week, the Delaware Township Board of Supervisors opened the door for new business in the future by passing ordinance amendments allowing for a medical marijuana facility.

As for other new business prospects, supervisors did not have a specific update on the proposed Delaware Plaza project on Route 739, but project engineer Joseph Hudak of Kiley & Associates said for the groundbreaking “You might be looking at something for early next year.”

As for medical marijuana facilities, Delaware Township joins Lehman and Westfall Townships that have approved similar ordinances amendments.

After a brief public hearing in which Delaware Township Solicitor Thomas Farley highlighted details of the ordinances changes, there was no public comment or discussion, and the board unanimously approved the changes immediately afterward.

The changes to Ordinance 901 add definitions involving medical marijuana.  Lengthy specifics on business requirements for growing and processing medical marijuana went into Ordinance 110.

Medical marijuana was first sold in the state in February, two years after it was legalized.

Under ordinance amendment 110.17 a medical marijuana grower/processor may only grow the crop in an indoor, enclosed and secure building and garage, which includes electronic locking, electronic surveillance and other features required by the Department of Health.  It prohibits certain locations for growing it such as a trailer, mobile home and recreation vehicle.  Any marijuana remnants must be properly disposed.

The amendment states that a medical marijuana dispensary also must be in an indoor, enclosed and secure building operating between 8am and 8pm, and must be legally registered with the state and hold a valid permit from the DOH.  The dispensary must not exceed 3,000 square feet, including 500 square feet for storage and an indoor customer waiting area of at least 25 percent of the floor area.

It cannot have a drive-through service or outdoor seating or vending machines.

The entire facility must be at least 1,000 feet from the nearest residential district and from the nearest school, playground, child care facility or day care center, park, place of worship, library or camp.  There must be three parking spots per 100 square feet of all public areas and outside lighting in compliance with zoning requirements.

Definitions under Ordinance 901 not only specify medical marijuana but terms such as caregiver, certified medical use, grower/processor, a medical marijuana organization or facility and a medical marijuana delivery vehicle office, which garages vehicles.

WEIS MARKETS AS ANCHOR STORE

As for the latest on the Delaware Plaza project, Hudak said, “It is ongoing.  We have the permits.  We are in communication with Weis Markets as the anchor store and in my last conversation with Weis, they’re finalizing details of what the inside would look like.”

The Weis Markets store would measure 63,000 square feet, and another 7,800 square feet is planned for a bank, a coffee and doughnut shop and a fast-food restaurant, said Hudak.

Also at the meeting, the board agreed to move $71,442 from the township Pension Fund into the General Fund.

It said two fo the six condemned cabins at Akenac Park would be used as a training exercise on Oct. 30 by the township’s volunteer fire department for firefighting drills.  Another will be used in October and a fourth one in November for firefighting drills.  The other two cabins will be demolished separately without fire department drills.  The township has yet to receive a bid from any company to care away what’s left and will advertise for bids again.

Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson relayed information from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation about its plans to service local roads, particularly repaving badly damaged State Route 2001/Milford Road from Silver Lake Road to the Lehman Township construction site by the winter.  During the workshop before the regular meeting, the board also discussed PennDOT’s recommendation in its Wilson Hill Road Dam Inspection Report for the township to remove some trees and shrubs and cut back branches.

“Its small trees,” specified township road master Vince Flatt.  “These are suggestions, not violations.”

The board agreed to advertise again for candidates to submit letters of interest to fill a vacancy on the township planning commission.  No letters have been submitted yet.  The commission meets the first and third Tuesdays of the month.

The board unanimously passed a motion to set aside the workshops for budget sessions before regular meetings on Sept. 19 and Oct. 17 and 31.  Supervisor Jane Neufeld said there is nothing yet to report on the budget at this early stage.  It also agreed to change the December meetings dates to the 5th and 19th, instead of the 12th and 26th because of the holidays… The board approved a $200 fee for township personnel to attend the annual Convention of Township Officials of Pike County on Oct. 5 at the Best Western at Hunt’s Landing in Westfall.  It starts with speakers from the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, followed by legislative representatives and discussions from townships.

It also moved to invite new Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Superintendent Sula Jacobs to meet with the township supervisors.

The board announced the fifth annual Senior Citizens Expo to be held 9am to 1pm on Sept. 14 at the Dingmans Township Fire Hall of 680 Log Tavern Road.

2018 Turning Into Tough Year for Emergency Responders

2018 Turning Into Tough Year for Emergency Responders
Pike County Dispatch, Thursday, August 17, 2018
By Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – Delaware Township emergency responders have had a tougher job throughout the year than a year ago, according to reports presented to the township Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting last week.

Chris Kimble, chief of the Delaware Township Volunteer Fire Company, said there were 189 calls from Jan. 1 through Aug.1, 59 more than last year.  There were 3,275.8 volunteer firefighter work hours during that time.  He said afterward that “about 50 of the calls came during the March storms” and reported that one female firefighter was injured at that time.  The calls included five structure fires and 18 automobile accidents.

The fire company will hold an open house 2-5pm on Aug. 18 at 131 Wilson Hill Road.  Kimble and his officers will be on hand to answer questions and there will be demonstrations of firefighting and automobile extrication.  There will be water games and education activities for children, with hot dogs and beverages served.

AMBULANCE CORPS REPORT

Mary Lou Corbett, captain of the Delaware Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps, said her company responded to 534 calls from Jan. 1 through the end of June but its resources are strained.

The ambulance corps has three ambulances, one loaned from the insurance company while it assesses repairs to the corps’ 2010 vehicle that was damaged skidding out on ice earlier this year.  The insurance company provided a loaner and had to replace it when the first one had broken air conditioning. 

A new model purchased earlier this year will await state inspection before it can be used.  Its third vehicle is a 2003 model year.

Kyle Wright, owner of Delaware Valley Emergency Services, in his report said that the average response time for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and Basic Life Support (BLS) has improved by four minutes to 14:05.  His service received 482 calls, 276 (57.7 percent) from Delaware Township.  The rest came from 20 different municipalities.  His service, which involves paid professional operates on a 40-hour a week schedule during times that are considered peak time frames.

Wright said, “69 percent of the calls are for an ALS level (response) from the emergency call center because of our variety of services but most get downgraded to BLS.”

Wright said Pike County “is having a huge BLS crisis” saying that Medicare reimbursements are not processed for months.  He later noted that the state passed increases in Medicaid insurance coverage for ALS services from $200 to $300 and for BLS services from $120 to $180. 

Township Solicitor Thomas Farley took issue with Wright’s report, saying there were details but no financial figures given of that services period.  “How can the township decide funding if there are no financial figures?  We want financial figures,”  Farley pressed.

“I’m here to give an operational report,” said Wright, who said that the board members would provide that data.  He was unable to name the board member who would provide that or to name any board members when asked by Farley.

Wright continued that his service handles drug overdose cases and his personnel are trained to administer naloxone, a nasal spray emergency treatment that comes from the state for free to qualified emergency service providers.  Supervisor Jane Neufeld said the board would like a breakdown of the number of calls for opiate crises.

Wright said his service, which had been non-affiliated, is no associated with Lehigh Valley Health Network.  He said improvements in cellular service for emergency services are expected over the next six months.

Also at the meeting, the board approved meetings for the township’s newly reorganized Recreation Committee to be held the second Tuesday of each month at 6pm at 100 Mary Lou Way in Dingmans Ferry.  Supervisor Chairman John Henderson said a location closer to the township municipal center might be worth considering.

The board agreed to advertise for a public hearing at 7:15pm during the Sept. 12 meeting to amend the wording of the ordinance guidelines for the recreation committee.  A key change calls for the committee to “run recreation events,” and its duties do not include running recreation facilities and programs.

The board agreed o take $20,000 in surplus money going into the township’s General Fund to pay off the unfunded pension liability, as recommended by Neufeld.  The township has a pension line item in its budget and this would set aside extra funds in case they are needed.

They Township awarded, after review by township engineer Boucher & James Inc., $218,580 to Dutchman Contracting LLC in Reinhold for construction of a township salt shed with some spending limited imposed.  It also awarded a $77,740 contract to low bidder Mar-Allen Concrete Products Inc. in Ephrata for the foundation piers project of the Akenac Park Recreation Building.

The board also approved $12,223.66 for centerline striping and should striping for give major township roads by DBI.  Supervisors also moved forward with Township Administrator Krista Predmore’s recommendation for a Monroe county Local Share Account (LSA) Grant application from casino gaming funds for $300,000 for Doolan Road repairs.  If approved, the township would provide a $300,000 match for a $600,000 total.

Workshop meetings for the 2019 budget were scheduled for Sept. 5 and 19 and another, if needed, for October at a date to be determined.

Supervisors also approved the township Harvest Festival for 11am to 3pm on Sept. 22 and the township’s Halloween Trunk or Treat for 3-5pm on Oct. 27, both at Akenac Park.  The Trunk or Treat will be rescheduled for the following day if it rains.  The township’s volunteer Fire Police were approved for traffic control at both events.

The board announced that Dingmans Ferry-Delaware Township Historical Society will hold “Mysteries of the Delaware Cemetery – a Grave Situation” 7pm on Thursday, Aug 16 at the township building at 116 Wilson Hill Road.

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP PONDERS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORDINANCE AMENDMENT

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP PONDERS MEDICAL MARIJUANA ORDINANCE AMENDMENT
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, August 2, 2018
By Wayne Witkowski

DINGMANS FERRY – Just a few weeks after passing an amended subdivision and land ordinance (SALDO), the Delaware Township Board of Supervisors will consider another unique addition to it.

Supervisors agreed to advertise for a public hearing for Aug. 22 at 7:15 p.m. which would allow for a facility to grow medical marijuana under condition use in a “C” commercial district.

Draft of amendments to two ordinances were presented at the latest board meeting last Wednesday, and township Solicitor Tom Farley said they would need only minor revisions before being presented at the hearing.

“I went through it and it will be ready for the hearing, just very minor corrections, “ said Farley, who said afterward they need only spelling corrections and better style points.

The changes add definitions involving medical marijuana to Ordinance 901.  Specifics on business requirements for growing and processing medical marijuana would go into Ordinance 110.

Medical Marijuana was first sold in the state in February, two years after it was legalized.

Definitions not only specify medical marijuana but terms such as caregiver, certified medical use, grower/processor, a medical marijuana organization or facility and a medical marijuana delivery vehicle office, which garages the vehicles.

Under ordinance amendment 110.17 a medical marijuana grower/processor may only grow the crop in an indoor, enclosed and secure building and garage, which includes electronic locking, electronic surveillance and other features required by the Department of Health.  It prohibits certain locations to grow it such as a trailer, mobile home and recreational vehicle.  Any marijuana remnants must be property disposed.

A medical marijuana dispensary must be in an indoor, enclosed and secure building operating between 8am and 8pm, and must be legally registered with the state and hold a valid permit from the DOH.  The dispensary must not exceed 3,000 square feet, including 500 square feet for storage and an indoor customer waiting area of a least 25 percent of the floor area.  It cannot have a drive through service or outdoor seating or vending machines.

The entire facility must be at least 1,000 feet from the nearest residential district and from the nearest school, playground, child care facility or day care center, park, place of worship, library and camp.  There must be three parking spots per 100 square feet of all public areas, and outdoor lighting is required in compliance with zoning requirements. 

Also at the meeting, the board approved, after discussion, renewing two annual insurance coverages with MRM despite increased rates after township administrator Krista Predmore said other companies she surveyed charged more.  One policy covering property, equipment, inland marine, crime and commercial for $33,547 increased by 3.36 percent.  The other covering public officials, employment practices and liability insurance costs $9,835, a 1.95 percent increase.

Bids were opened for two projects:  three each for the Akenac Park Recreation Building Pier Repair Project and for the township salt shed project.  Supervisors tabled a decision pending a review of both by the township engineer.

SAFE HAVEN PRESENTATION

During the workshop preceding the regular meeting, Safe Haven of Pike County Executive Director Christina Byrne gave a lengthy presentation of the domestic and sexual abuse nonprofit’s service to the community.  She said her office has scheduled outreach activities with you people during the school year and with older residents, helping them recognize risks of violence and abuse and how to handle it.

Byrne said 203 people have come to Safe Haven for help so far this year, 50 of them reach out more than once.  She said 18 people from Delaware Township have reported cases of domestic abuse since April.  A rising number of men have come forward seeking help or domestic abuse from a partner.  The goal is empowerment and the key is education, she said.

When asked if Safe Haven’s financial profile has continue to improve from a shaky situation a few years ago, Byrne said, “Everything is fine now.”

Resident Steve McBride commended Byrne’s presentation as the best and most detailed one h has heard from Safe Haven.

Byrne later aid after the meeting, “even though Safe Haven’s financial position is strong, as a small community non-profit, donations are a vital part of our funding.”

“Our primary funding source, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, actually requires a 25 percent match of their funds as a means of encouraging Victim Service Provider agencies to engage with their community.  To this end, Safe Haven receives grant dunging from private foundations, such as the Greater Pike Community Foundation and the Robert E. & Marie Orr Smith Foundation, among other; but it is equally important to engage the individuals and families who live, work and play in Pike County.

“Safe Haven does this in many ways that include, but are not limited to, making presentations to townships supervisors throughout the county in an effort to increase awareness, gaining a better understanding of the needs in their communities and working together to develop service delivery strategies that increase awareness, promote healthy relationships and prevent violence in our community.”

Supervisors also announced during the meeting that the township volunteer fire company will hold an open house with demonstrations 2-5pm on Aug. 18.

Local Judge Reports On ‘State of the District’

Local Judge Reports On ‘State of the District’
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, July 19, 2018

DINGMANS FERRY – Paul Menditto, magisterial district court judge, drove a short distance from his offices on Silver Lake Road last Wednesday to share with the Board of Supervisors at the start of their workshop his State of the District report.

The four-page pamphlet includes a pie graph breaking down total cases into categories and a chart showing how fees from collections are disbursed in his district 60-3-04, which includes Delaware, Lehman and Porter Townships.

“The state of the district is good right now,” Menditto said and later said with a smile, “But there is less money coming to your township.”

Although state and county disbursements went up, Delaware Township’s fees went down from $6,923.71 in 2016 to $3,164.50 last year.

Traffic (violations) seems to be the biggest thing, although we don’t have an interstate (highway) here,” Menditto said.

Total cases went up last year from the previous year to 1,617 from 1,449, with traffic making up the largest part of that pie chart with 674 cases.

Menditto said he is most proud of the reduction of truancy at the East Stroudsburg Area School District High School North campus, which is under his jurisdiction.  Truancy in the state of Pennsylvania is considered a crime, Menditto said.  “Many families there are transplants from New York and New Jersey and don’t know that,” he said.

His pamphlet read, “By working with the school district and having pre-adjudication meetings with parents, students and school officials, truancy citations have dropped from 71 in 2014 when Judge Menditto first took office to 35 in 2017.”

“I’m personally proud of that,” Menditto said at the meeting.

Supervisors commended Menditto’s pamphlet and presentation ditto’s pamphlet and presentation for providing ample information on the variety of cases he handles, including Protection From Abuse orders, which can only be issued in cases of immediate danger and not based on old allegations.

He said his is the only district in Pike County protected solely by state police, whereas Easter Pike Regional and municipal departments cover some municipalities in other districts.

REVISED SUBDIVSION ORDINANCE

During the regular meeting, the board unanimously approved, after a brief public hearing, a revised Subdivision and Land Development (SALDO).  The ordinance was last amended in 2014 and the current version contains many revisions.

“We’ve tightened it up to make it more functional,” Township Solicitor Tom Farley said in introducing the ordinance hearing.

“It had addressed subdivision only but there’s been a lot of land development (in the area) and this make it clear and lists the requirements of land development,” township Engineer Jon Tresslar commented during the hearing.

Supervisor Jane Neufeld posed the only other point during the hearing when she asked about engineering fees.  Tresslar said those costs now are included in the application escrow that comes out of the land development fee.

Also at the meeting, the board approved, after discussion during the workshop, to put out to bid for a contractor to remove what will be left of six cabins at Akenac Park that are condemned by the township.  Its fire department will stage firefighting drills at each of them, and Board of Supervisors Chairman John Henderson said that he wants the cabins all removed by October.  Road master Vince Flatt said details and the schedule of the drills have not been discussed yet with the fire department.

Township Administrator Krista Predmore said that based on her research the cost of removing the debris from each cabin would be $4,000, the same as it would cost the township employees to do it themselves.  But she said a contractor “can stick to the schedule” and not have to handle other township demands for its employees that may arise.

Predmore and the supervisors also discussed contacting nonprofits Safe Haven and local food pantries to see if either would want to take discarded filing cabinets and an upright refrigerator from the condemned cabins.

Supervisors also authorized township engineers to develop a cost estimate to resurface lower Myck Road.  Flatt said it is a “big project” that he figures would take a five years.  “I don’t think we have the equipment to do that and we are past (making) temporary fixes for that road.”

The township also will vacate the dirt road section of Chestnut Ridge Road to the National Park Service in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

Supervisors also agreed to waive permit fees for Holy Trinity Church to build a new food pantry.  They had agreed to waive land development costs at the previous meeting.

The board awarded the contract to the lower of two bidders – Carpentry Unlimited – for the Library/Historical Society building’s floor replacement.  Carpentry Unlimited bid $15,074.00 along with alternative prices of $100 per joist for joist repair and $2,000 to repair each girder as needed.  Tresslar said, when asked, that the extent of joist and girder work could not be determined until the floor is removed.

EAGLE SCOUTS COMMENDED

Local Boy Scouts Jason Budd and Andrew Errico received proclamations from the supervisors for completing Eagle Scout projects.  Budd directed volunteers to build an American flag depository at American Legion Post 851 for proper disposal of timeworn American flags.  Errico developed a section map and spreadsheet for Delaware Cemetery’s section A, its oldest section.

Supervisors announced a 4pm July 23 deadline for the township to receive letters of interest for the Planning Commission seat vacated when Len Glamann stepped down last month.

The board also renewed the agreement with Portland Contractors for certified water operation and process directions at Akenac Park for $415 per month.

The yearlong contract begins August 1st.

During public comment, Ron Hough asked if there was any decision made at the executive session held before the meeting on the Delaware Plaza project on Route 739.  Henderson said he could comment only that issues were being handled and the project is “moving forward.”

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