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Catasauqua approves Iron Works sale

In an Oct. 5 meeting of gravity that will impact Catasauqua Borough’s future, Catasauqua Borough Council voted in split votes to approve an agreement of sale and a much-discussed ordinance.

The agreement of sale of the Iron Works property to Dunn Twiggar was approved by a 4-3 vote. This vote transferred more than 10 acres of the former industrial site to Dunn Twiggar to begin the planning process for the development.

Reached after the meeting, borough council President Vincent Smith voiced his pleasure with the vote to approve the agreement of sale.

“The borough has been steadfastly working on the agreement of sale with Dunn Twiggar for the last three-plus years. We now have a comprehensive agreement in place that ensures the success of the borough, its residents and Dunn Twiggar.

“I am very excited to be closing this first chapter and moving forward to the next one - the planning and development,” Smith said. “This project will bring much-needed goods, services, quality-of-life enhancements, including recreational opportunities, and much-needed tax revenue to both the borough and the school district.”

In a related vote, council passed an environmental covenant as required by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker explained the covenant is needed by law to ensure the property owner - in this case, Dunn Twiggar - follows the approved remedies to preserve the planned cap for the Iron Works property.

Dinkelacker said the cap simply ensures the brownfield area is capped or covered by parking lots, buildings and, in some cases, soil. The covenant was passed 5-2.

In another vote, council voted 6-1 to approve the borough’s burning ordinance, which will regulate private, recreational fires.

Councilman Brian McKittrick explained this ordinance is to address safety and nuisance. He noted some residents are burning garbage in their fire pits. He also noted there are complaints from residents about smoke in their houses from neighbors’ recreational fires.

McKittrick further noted there will be properties in Catasauqua unable to burn or have a fire pit due to the size of the lot. Under the ordinance, a property owner can be cited for violating the ordinance regulations.

Councilman Brian Bartholomew asked if there is any consideration for residents who constructed fireplaces in their backyards before the new ordinance. It was explained any pre-existing fireplace would have to meet the burning ordinance regulations.

Borough Manager Steven Travers noted the fire marshal and the building inspector will inspect any backyard fireplace constructed before the ordinance to ascertain if it meets the new regulations. If the fireplace does not fulfill regulations, it will have to be removed.

A lease agreement was approved between the borough and a social club located at 338-344 Second St. A former fire services provider, the organization has become a social club with many members. Under the lease agreement, the club can remain at the location and operate the club for five years. The lease can be renewed at that time.

In her report, Catasauqua Mayor Barbara Schlegel relayed the new police car should arrive this week.

The flea market to benefit Catasauqua Police Department’s K-9 unit is planned for 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 17 at the firefighter training center on Race Street.

Borough Engineer Brent Shriver reported the Willow Street parking lot project is proceeding, and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is evaluating a possible change of the water line position in the Lehigh and Race streets project.

There was a brief discussion on Christmas celebration plans. The tree-lighting ceremony was discussed with a notable issue put forward by McKittrick.

“Don’t put lights on it because it is dead from the top down,” he said.

The tree is located in front of the borough’s municipal complex. Schlegel asked if the tree had a warranty, and Travers said the borough may get a discount on a replacement tree. He will follow up.

The next council meeting is a workshop session, set for 7 p.m. Oct. 26. The meeting will be a hybrid for those who want to attend live and those who prefer a virtual meeting. See the borough website, www.catasauqua.org, for the virtual meeting access codes.