Solicitor questioned on Act 537 Plan

Chief Lohr plans to retire this year

By Rebecca Zemencik, Managing Editor •

VALLEY VIEW – When did Hegins Township Supervisors go against the Hegins-Hubley Joint Act 537 plan was the question asked by Supervisor Brad Carl of Attorney John G. Dean, of Elliot Greenleaf & Dean, Wilkes-Barre, who is representing Hegins Township in the appeal case.
Dean, who attended the July 6th meeting of the Hegins Township Supervisors, entered into an executive session to discuss the plan. After the executive session Dean updated the board and those in attendance on the status of the appeal.

The appeal of the joint Act 537 Plan was held April 19 in Harrisburg before the Environmental Hearing Board. Hegins Township filed post-hearing briefs on June 20 and he announced that Hubley Twp. needs to file theirs by July 20.
According to Dean, a ruling approving, rejecting or remanding the plan for further comment should be made by the end of the year. He said it is up to Judge Richard P. Mather Sr. to issue his opinion.
Carl read from a document and asked Dean to explain why it sounds as if Hegins Township is against the plan.
At first Dean said Carl was interpreting the document wrong, and later said it was after the Entech Engineering report was released that it was determined the plan would not be implementable. Dean said he believes it was discussed at the April meeting of the supervisors when Attorney Matthew Boyd was present.
In other business, Hegins Township Police Chief Steve Lohr announced that he will be retiring at the end of 2016.
Currently the police force includes Chief Lohr, Sgt. Beau Yarmush and three part-time officers.
“We’re getting fewer hours from the part-timers we do have, and I think you really need to look at where you’re going with this,” said Lohr. “We have a lot of open shifts and open weekends.”
The board voted unanimously to begin searching for Lohr’s replacement and also asked Lohr to be a part of the process to find his replacement.
Valley View resident Steve Klinger and his wife Beverly voiced their concern of the upkeep of some properties in their neighborhood on Park Lane.
“We are concerned about some of the properties, the way they’re being taken care of,” said Steve. “There’s an odor problem and we have had snakes, a snapping turtle and other rodents found recently in our yard.”
Beverly Klinger who has a licensed kennel said she is regulated by the state and inspected regularly and must keep her facilities clean and taken care of.
The Klinger’s have contacted the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, the office of Rep. Mike Tobash and Lohr.
“Everywhere we turn they tell us it’s a local issue,” said Steve. “We must go to our township supervisors with the problem.”
The supervisors explained that issues like this have been an ongoing problem and it’s a very long process to try to get things taken care of.
The township used to have one of the part-time police officers serving as code enforcement officer. Then they decided to have an engineering firm handle it. Currently it is handled by Leight-Heigel and Chief Lohr.
“We need people to come and tell us where the problems are,” said Supervisor Carl.
Supervisor Mike Begis said it’s a long process since residents are given three warnings to correct the problems before they get a summery offense. He said if a resident finally cuts the grass after being given notice and then decide to not cut it again for several weeks, then the process of the three warnings starts all over again. Begis said there are currently 10 properties on the CEO’s report.
Lohr said another problem is that a lot of the properties in question are owned by the banks. He said the banks evict the people and foreclose on the properties, but the banks don’t really take ownership either.
“I’m going to offer a challenge to the police chief,” said Klinger. “Before Chief Lohr leaves office, to leave a legacy by going after some of these property owners with a little bit stronger methods, o whatever he can do to get them going. I think he can, along with our code enforcement officer. We’re all accountable.”
Supervisor Sandra McCullough invited the Klinger’s and anyone else interested to a meeting concerning blight and the revitalization of Main Street that was set for Wednesday, July 13, at 7 p.m. at the Hegins Area Ambulance Building.
A discussion was held on ash pickup in the township. Supervisor Bruce Klouser made a motion to eliminate ash pickup by the township road crew. The motion died for a lack of a second.
“I don’t think we need to offer this,” said Klouser. “It’s dangerous for the road guys and it takes time away from them working on the roads. The list of people who want their ashes picked up just keeps growing and growing and I feel people are abusing it. I thought this was for the elderly.”
Craig Coleman, road foreman said he estimated the cost of ash pickup in the township is approximately $5,800.
A discussion was also held on the township collecting sticks and yard clippings.
“We are not in the collection business,” said Supervisor Chairwoman Sandy McCullough.
Coleman estimated this service to cost approximately $2,475 per year.
The supervisors asked the public who were in attendance what their opinion or thoughts were on the ashes and the stick and grass clippings.
“I think these are services this township can provide at minimal expense,” said Roger Wetzel, Valley View. “I think it’s a good idea to offer these services.”
The supervisors made no decision on either and instructed township secretary/treasurer Cathy Moyer to contact other townships and boroughs and ask how they handle these things.
In other business, McCullough announced the resignation of Sandra Renninger from the zoning hearing board.
There will be a public hearing at 7 p.m. on August 3 on the township’s renewable energy ordinance, prior to the regular township supervisor’s meeting at the Hegins Area Ambulance Building.
The food pantry will be held July 20, at 8 a.m. at the township building on Gap Street.

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