At their June 17 meeting, the Northampton Borough Council addressed concerns from residents and vacancies across the borough.
Residents of Dewey Avenue were present and discussed the rat infestation they are currently experiencing; this is becoming a big health and safety issue for them, since there are children in the area. They believe the infestation could be coming from abandoned houses on the block. Further, there is also grass and weeds that are around four feet tall that are attracting deer, foxes, and snakes to the area. Borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said he would bring up the rats and grass to the code enforcement officers, and get the board of health to address the rats as well.
Another resident stated that he would like to see an opportunity for public comment at the end of borough council meetings to allow people to comment on matters addressed during the meeting; this would be similar to what is done in East Allen and Allen Townships.
In other business, council addressed the multiple vacancies on different boards across the borough. Sandra Pudliner was appointed to the vacant position on the Zoning Hearing Board. There is still a vacancy on the Planning Commission; interested residents can find the application on the borough’s website. Three residents introduced themselves and expressed an interest in the open spot on the Northampton Borough Municipal Authority (NBMA) board that will become available when Robert McHale’s term expires on June 30.
With Thomas Gehringer’s resignation at the May 20 meeting, council has an open seat. Solicitor Brian Panella explained that council is able to appoint someone through a resolution to that vacancy; this person would only serve until the first Monday in January. The borough has notified the elections board, and Gehringer’s seat will be placed on the general election ballot. Whoever wins the election will serve out the remainder of the term, until Dec. 31, 2023. The same goes for McHale’s seat; however, his term was up for re-election this year, and the person that wins the election will serve the entire four-year term.
Ronald Glassic, a Third Ward resident and member of the NBMA board, was appointed through a resolution to fill the vacancy. He was sworn in at the meeting by Mayor Thomas Reenock. An appointment can not be made for McHale’s seat until it is vacated. His seat also represents the Third Ward.
Councilwoman Judy Kutzler stated she has received a few calls concerning Airbnbs on the 1500 block of Main Street. The Airbnbs seem to be a way that people are getting around the ordinances and other requirements needed to maintain a rental property or hotel. However, it is also a gray area not explicitly addressed by a borough ordinance because their popularity took off overnight. Panella will look into the best way to handle regulating Airbnbs in the borough. Other communities such as Jim Thorpe and Bath are facing a similar problem.
Finally, council passed a motion to transition to a summer meeting schedule for July and August. They will only be meeting on the third Thursdays (July 15 and August 19) of those months, at 7:30 p.m. in the municipal building.