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Local police to field Fossil’s noise calls

Catasauqua Borough Council voted Sept. 13 to transfer jurisdiction from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to the local police force regarding complaints over loud noise coming from a borough tavern.

Fossil’s Last Stand, 429 Race St., Catasauqua, has been bedeviled for years by sporadic anonymous calls to the PLCB complaining about music emanating from the establishment. Because the tavern is located in a residential area, Fossil’s has struggled to keep the noise down to the satisfaction of some neighbors.

When a resident sidesteps the police by calling the PLCB, the local police force is unaware of the complaint. When the PLCB receives a call, it does not act immediately. Instead, it will send an agent to monitor noise. This system could take months to get the complaint addressed.

There are numerous local municipalities that have adopted resolutions that take away the PLCB’s noise complaint jurisdiction and return it solely to local police enforcement. This allows noise complaints to be addressed in real time. It had been suggested this route should be taken with Fossil’s.

Attorney Jeff Dimmick, who represents the borough, said this is community policing that takes enforcement out of the hands of the PLCB and places it with local police.

“I have no problem [with this change],” Catasauqua Police Chief Douglas Kish said. “I like to help the businesses out.”

Kish added the complaints his department has received over the years about noise at Fossil’s have been sporadic.

The borough’s public safety committee voted 2-1 to recommend the change to local police coverage rather than PLCB enforcement.

Council then voted unanimously to put the change in place.

It was noted this change does not affect the PLCB from enforcing other liquor laws.

Council President Vincent Smith was satisfied with council’s decision, saying this change will lead to more efficient law enforcement. Representatives of the tavern in attendance were also delighted with the change.

In other business, Catasauqua High School students Haylie Toth, Val Davidheiser and Chloe Moyer were sworn in by Mayor Barbara Schlegel as the Catasauqua junior council members for 2021-22.

All three said they hope to be active in and are interested in advancing the Catasauqua community.

In other business, a resident addressed council about the front doors of the borough complex being difficult for those needing accessible entry into the building. Borough Manager Stephen Travers said he is working on the installation of a door bell that will notify staff that a resident needs assistance into the building.

The same resident also pointed out there are fire pits in residents’ backyards that violate the fire pit ordinance. He said one fire he saw had flames of about 4-5 feet high. He was encouraged to call police if he sees a violation again.

Council approved Ordinance 2021-1407, which allows for the refinance of some of the borough’s bond debt. The measure will allow the borough to save about $175,000 in costs and will allow the borough to add about $4 million to the borough’s debt.

The $4 million will be utilized for necessary repairs at the borough’s sewer and water plant operations. The increased debt is hoped to stave off or at least reduce a tax hike.

The ordinance passed 5-1.

Councilman Paul Cmil voted no, stating he does not believe this is the right course of action. He said he wants to avoid a tax hike in the 2022 borough budget. Cmil asked for a more detailed breakdown of needed repairs and the costs.

Borough Manager Stephen Travers noted 2022 borough budget work has begun. He expects budget meetings to begin in mid-October. The borough is also preparing for police contract negotiations.

Schlegel thanked all involved in the recent successful Battle of the Balloons event. She also reported the first wedding ceremony was performed at the George Taylor House. Schlegel noted the GTH grounds “looked beautiful.”

Schlegel also said it is possible to have a marketing intern gratis from Lehigh University be assigned to the GTH to assist in developing outreach activities for the house.

Solicitor Thomas Dinkelacker said a draft of the Cohen Group ordinance was received, and he plans to refine it to better fit Catasauqua’s needs. The ordinance addresses the introduction of 5G Internet service to the borough.

In the engineers report, it was said the road bids were awarded to begin repairs and upgrades of Cambridge, Covington and Stonewood streets.

Council also appointed five new members of the borough authority. They are Ryan Carson, Dale Hein, Rob Nappa, Debra Mellish and Greg Hoch.

Smith announced the Catasauqua Halloween parade is 7 p.m. Oct. 20. More details are forthcoming.

The next Catasauqua Borough Council workshop meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the borough complex, 90 Bridge St. It is a hybrid meeting, both in person and virtual. Visit catasauqua.org for the virtual meeting access codes.