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Weisenberg supervisors deal with land development, resident requests

By Sarit laschinsky

Special to The Press

Weisenberg supervisors had several land development items and resident requests to address at their May 10 virtual meeting.

To begin, township Administrator Brian Carl said a resident request had been received asking for truck traffic to be restricted on Windswept Road.

Carl said several years ago, Upper Macungie Township had restricted truck traffic on Wood Lane, so now trucks were going from Ziegels Church Road down Windswept Road.

He also reported the trucks are getting stuck at a particular curve they are unable to make.

Supervisors gave Carl and engineer Stan Wojciechowski permission to carry out a study and write-up on the road.

Additionally, a ninth request for escrow reduction was heard for the Morgan Hills Development.

Wojciechowski said last year the development had redesigned two of their infiltration basins to be aboveground structures rather than underground, and as a result of the change the developer must submit for revised estimates and a minor modification to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

However, Wojciechowski noted as less work was required to put in an aboveground basin, the project would be $195,021.85 cheaper.

He said the developer was asking for that amount of money to be released.

Wojciechowski also reported the necessary minor modification had not yet been approved by the Lehigh County Conservation District, and recommended the board’s approval of the reduction include a condition that the money will be released once the modification has been approved.

He also noted an approval condition meant easements on certain lots must be rerecorded, and recommended building permits for this lot not be issued until the plans have been rerecorded.

The board approved the fund release per Wojciechowski’s recommendations.

Next, supervisors heard a request from resident Raymond Bear to have a lien on his property removed.

Carl said the township originally received complaints of “junk and unregistered vehicles” on the property and had gone to the district judge’s office in 2019 on the matter, receiving judgment for an original amount of $1,712.25.

He said while the property owner had cleaned up the land, the township had not received the judgment and had thus gone on and put a lien on the property.

Solicitor Peter Lehr said his office had begun the process of executing on the lien.

Lehr also said sheriff’s deputies visited the property to serve the lien document, and the township could set aside the execution if Bear agreed to pay within a certain period of time.

Bear said he wanted to have the fine reduced.

Lehr said that was up to the board’s discretion.

“but you have to tell us what you’re willing to pay, and when are you willing to pay it,” he told the property owner.

Bear responded by stating he had not received paperwork previously and was unaware about owing the township money, and he said that he had been working to remove or store items from his property.

Board Chairwoman Linda Gorgas said she was not in favor of taking the lien off while the township was still owed money, as the problem had been ongoing for several years.

“I personally am not willing to reduce it. You ask people to be in compliance and they don’t do it, and when they don’t do it there’s a consequence,” she said.

Fellow supervisors Tony Werley and Richard Bleiler concurred.

“It’s moved through the procedures, it’s taken a long time, and this should have been dealt with promptly enough,” Bleiler added.

Carl noted the full amount of the lien was $2,197, as it includes the judgment from the magistrate as well as filing fees, and after further discussion about serving the property and the judgment process.

The conversation was ended after Bear said he had nothing further to say.

Additionally, later on in the meeting, another request was heard from resident Greg Epler regarding a billed amount for alleged excessive sewer usage.

Township Tax Collector Jeff Strauss explained sewer bills are sent out quarterly based on what how much water a property uses as tracked by Lehigh County Authority, and said the township bills out $4.53 per 1,000 gallons for the sewer.

Strauss said for this quarter, LCA readings for Epler showed a use of 226,000 gallons, Epler had been billed for $1,023.78 and received a letter for excessive water usage.

Epler said there had been a broken pipe and leak which was covered up by heavy snowfall in the winter which caused significant amounts of water pouring onto the ground.

He was unaware of the leak and, as a person using a wheelchair, had a more difficult time traversing the property.

He added the LCA letter was received several weeks after the leaks were fixed and while the water had poured into the ground, none had gone into the sewer system, and asked for the $1,000 amount to be removed.

When Gorgas said this was an LCA issue, Epler disagreed, noting this particular sewer system was partially owned by him, and his neighbors had sold the private system to the township.

“So they’re just using the Lehigh County Authority as the basis for what they’d charge … but actually Weisenberg Township is the one responsible for billing it.”

He said the average bill amount before was $40-$60 and he understood how the township billed its water usage, but reiterated this issue was due to a broken pipe, and the water had never entered the drain.

“How could any one person use $1,000 in sewage in 90 days?” he asked.

After back-and-forth discussions about delinquent payments and billing amounts, the board asked Epler to pay his past due balance and a reasonable quarterly bill amount, totaling $108.51, which he accepted.

In other business, during his report, Fire Chief Matt Krapf said firefighters responded to 63 calls for the year, with 15 calls in April.

He said the department received $13,302.71 in state grant funds in May, which will be used to buy a new hose for their new tanker, and Krapf added that $200,000 for the tanker had been received thanks to a Department of Community and Economic Development grant.

Krapf also reported that at a recent Northwestern Regional Committee meeting, a major discussion item had been a dwindling number of qualified firefighters and the need to increase recruitment.

He said the committee will be looking to present Northwestern Lehigh School District with a fire science elective program to train children in-school in the firefighter and medical fields, with a goal to increase the number of younger volunteers.

During his report, Carl also provided the board with an update on a property along Masters Hill Road and its second driveway, which the board has repeatedly ordered to be closed and removed.

Carl said the driveway issue has still not changed, and that the property owner, Curt Silfies, was waiting for the delivery of several shipping containers which have been ordered but repeatedly delayed.

Board members noted that the driveway issue has been going on for a year and needs to be resolved, though they and Carl also acknowledged that delivery issues have resulted in constant, ongoing delays.

The board ultimately said they would wait another month to check in on the issue, while also ensuring that the second driveway is not used.

Supervisors said they wanted Silfies to contact the township on a regular basis and provide an update on the situation, as well as any new developments.

The next board of supervisors meeting will be 7 p.m. June 10.