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Resident complains about loose dogs

By Susan Bryant


The ongoing issue of Afghan hounds running loose in the township was a major topic of discussion at the Heidelberg supervisors in-person and virtual meeting on July 21.

During public comments, resident Steve Metzger told the board the saga of the Afghan hounds is still going on and three of the female hounds were out again and attacked a neighbor’s new little puppy.

“When the wife came out to separate them, she was attacked by the dogs and had to go to the emergency room and get stitched up,” Metzger stated.

He knows their hands are tied on the matter but asked supervisors to look at the ordinance to see if it can be strengthened because it is becoming more and more of an issue with these hounds.

“Dawn (zoning officer) can’t enforce it. It’s unenforceable if she can’t get on the property to see if the dogs are over 6 months old, which your ordinance states that if they are, they have to be down to six dogs,” Metzger added.

Chairman Steve Bachman commented on the issue.

“We can look at it, but my one concern is we have a lot of farmers out here,” Bachman said. “So, every one of those farmers would be affected by this ordinance and a dog running free.

“There is a lot of people out there that have free running dogs, but the dogs are on their own property.

“We have got to be careful about strengthening the ordinances.”

Township Solicitor Keith Strohl offered his comments on the issue.

“We would be changing what we have and what we have right now is part of the zoning ordinance,” he said. “We have limitations as what we can do as the township is concerned and we don’t have a police force.”

Kennel licensing comes from the state, Strohl stated.

“The only thing we are going to be able to do is if we do pass an ordinance, it would be a criminal ordinance and we would be able to fine them. That is all we can do,” he added.

Bachman advised Metzger and the residents in attendance that Strohl is going to look a little bit further at the issue, but again stated there are limits as to what the township can do.

Also under public comment, resident Bruce Zellner who asked at June’s meeting if the township could install Children at Play signs on Jones Road to curb speeding.

Zellner has since purchased the signs and inquired at the meeting as to when they would be installed by the road crew.

“They darn near hit one of those kids yesterday,” he stated.

Bachman told him it would be a week or two before they could be installed.

Zellner then asked if the supervisors and work crew were aware there is a pipe causing a problem underneath Mountain Road that goes onto Jones Road.

“I have been going up there every month or month and a half and weed whacking about a foot and a half to two feet of weeds at the end on Jones Road so water will flow,” he said. It has got to be cleaned out there.”

He was advised by the board that section of piping is a PennDOT issue, and he can contact that agency.

Before the monthly reports being given, Strohl said that the board held an executive session before the meeting to discuss employment matters, legal litigation sessions and pending possible land purchase issues.

Germansville Fire Chief Jay Scheffler said during his report the fire company took delivery of a command vehicle that was purchased through the Heidelberg Relief Association and the tanker went out to Central Spring Service, Tamaqua, to get the rear springs replaced.

Bachman said during his Veterans Memorial Committee report, the committee will be discussing the cost of on-site engraving.

“The biggest issue is after everybody saw how great it (memorial wall) was, people who didn’t want their name on it previously are looking to get their name put on it,” Bachman stated.

“We did commit to $15,000 in kind services. Think about that for next meeting,” he said. “Like I said I will probably come back and say make a donation to make up the $15,000 that we said we were going to donate.”

During the Director of Parks and Recreation report, Bachman stated Night in the Country is coming along nicely and will be held 4-10 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Northwestern Recreation Fields, corner Route 309 and Northwest Road.

He also reported some of the fence next to Katie’s Restaurant was damaged.

“I think I told you at the last meeting that we chained the fence shut,” he said. “People did not like the fence being chained and having to walk around.

“So, it looks like they ripped the fence down and jumped over it and did quite a bit of damage. Cameras will hopefully catch it the next time.”

Janice Meyers during the township administrator’s report said the federal government did not release the second amount of money from the American Rescue Fund that was supposed to be released by the end of June.

Now they are saying by the end of August, she explained.

“But what they did give us on July 17 was a deposit of $587.74,” Meyers stated.

Regarding the zoning officer’s report, Meyers said Dawn Didra is continuing to keep an eye on things.

“There are a few violations in Heidelberg Heights area, and she goes up there maybe once a week just to do a drive around and see the progress,” Meyers stated.

Strohl reported he received a copy of the model solar ordinance that Chris Noll, township engineer, had provided.

“I haven’t had a chance to dig deep into it yet and we would have to obviously adjust the sections to come forward with our zoning ordinance,” he added.

Under unfinished business, Bachman gave an update on the status of the transfer of acreage to the Northwestern Recreation Commission.

“It is with the rec commission right now. They have reviewed it, called and talked with Keith about it, so it will be on our agenda,” Bachman said. “So, by next month we should have some update.”

The next item on the agenda was the review of the ADT system contract and smoke detectors, heat sensors and carbon monoxide detectors.

Meyers said ADT has not gotten back to her, but she did get a quote from Alert Security Systems.

“They would install it and, then if we weren’t satisfied with the service, the monthly monitoring, we could go to somebody else,” she said.

The next item under unfinished business was the air filtration and grant status.

According to Meyers, A PA Keystone Communities Program grant for $50,000 was awarded to the township in late 2020.

“Originally, the funds were to be used for an air filtration system that would hang from the garage ceilings to recirculate the air,” she said. “COVID protocols and supply chain delays caused a delay in the installation of the system and in early 2022 the cost had almost doubled, so supervisors have chosen a different system called Fume-A-Vent which connects to the vehicle exhaust pipes and pushes the exhaust outside instead of within the garages.”

The first item under new business was Mark Szoke to discuss the speed limit on Church Road between Mountain and Reservoir roads.

“Basically, what we are looking for is to lower the speed limit in that section of the road,” Szoke stated.

After a brief discussion, the board approved a motion for Road Superintendent Kevin Huber to do a speed study.

Bachman said the only way to legally post a speed limit sign is to run the study, otherwise it is unenforceable.

The next item was Bachman Road Bridge, which had subsided and was repaired, and Buckery Road Bridge which collapsed during Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020.

According to Meyers, the township had tried to get grant money but since none is available for smaller bridges the board decided to go forward with the bridge replacement using the American Rescue Plan funding.

The next item was the board receiving a request from Jonathan Pasieka to retire from service with the township road crew.

His last workday was July 29.

Supervisors approved hiring Todd Reichard for the road crew at a starting salary of $24.50 an hour. His first work day was July 25.

The board also approved the release of funds for farmland preservations and designate signatory.

Meyers said previously the board approved a resolution to give $20,000 this year to go toward purchasing agricultural easements.

“They (Ag Preservation Board) have three farms they are looking at,” she stated.

The revised Heidelberg Township Nonuniformed Employees Pension Plan was also adopted by the board.

“Steve (Bachman) would sign it and its just saying that we will adopt a new plan document. You have to do it about every five years,” Meyers stated. “The only change to our plan document is that instead of appointing a trustee by name, its going to say something like chairman of the board or vice chairman of the board or supervisor.”

She added as for everything else in the document, nothing is changing.