Bath Borough Council met on Monday, April 4 with a busy agenda and multiple executive sessions.
First to speak was Terry DeGroot with Spuds & Suds regarding their upcoming Fifth Annual Spuds & Suds festival on August 20 from noon to 7 p.m., which he is currently soliciting sponsorships for. He requested “whatever support the borough can give,” and stated, “the borough has been generous in their support in the past.”
DeGroot says he understands that things are more difficult right now from a budget perspective but hopes that more support from the borough could help create a bigger event.
Under public comments, residents Steve and Ann Constenbader addressed the borough council regarding their rental property, which they stated was a verbal lease-option to purchase agreement with Steve Constenbader’s father. Recently, the borough has required them to acquire a rental inspection license, which Constenbader believes is an infringement on his constitutional rights. It was explained that the borough’s new rental inspection law does not have exemptions for these types of arrangements, otherwise other borough residents could claim exemptions that do not apply. Only owner-occupied housing; where if Steve’s father lived in the house with the Constenbader’s would an exemption apply. Solicitor Kratz stated he would look at the law considering the Constenbader’s were in a lease-option to purchase with a family member.
Manager Flynn asked Solicitor Kratz if the Constenbader’s were placed on the deed to the property by Steve’s father, wouldn’t that effectively make the Constenbader’s home-owner occupied residents, exempting them from the law? Solicitor Kratz indicated it would. Solicitor Kratz cautioned that he was not offering legal advice to the Constenbader’s and that they should seek the services of an attorney, such as Daniel G. Spengler or another firm for further advice. The borough would follow up with the Constenbader’s at a later time.
Following, the Bath Fire Department gave a report for the last month, revealing there were 17 fire dispatches and two EMS assists in March, which brings the total to 79 dispatches for the year from January through March.
Next, Borough of Bath Mayor Fiorella Mirabito brought up that NIXLE, the borough’s alert messaging system, has not been working for her. NIXLE is a technology the borough gets through NAZCOG, along with multiple municipalities. Mayor Mirabito said she tried sending a NIXLE last week as a community reminder for the Ukrainian humanitarian aid collection, which residents didn’t receive.
Mayor Mirabito asked if Vice President Hesch could go back to NAZCOG to see if other municipalities are having issues with it as well.
She stated, “I don’t want to have to send out an emergency alert, and residents don’t receive it.”
In other business, councilwoman Phyllis Andrews presented a report on the Environmental Steering Committee’s electronic recycling event that took place on March 19, stating the event went well. Andrews also shared some statistics, revealing the borough had 11,093 pounds of electronic recycling on June 1, 2021, 12,867 pounds in July 2021, and 2,800 pounds in November 2021, totaling 26,670 pounds of electronic recycling.
Councilwoman Andrews also expressed the Environmental Steering Committee will only be holding this event once a year in the future, which does not have a definitive date yet, but will be held in the middle of the year. Additionally, the event will be for both recycling and shredding.
Next, Vice President Hesch discussed the Old Home Week historical celebration being held August 14-19 by the Community and Economic Development Committee. The borough will be hosting a time capsule ceremony, a softball and community picnic with crafts for kids and live music, a dinner and a movie event with food trucks on site, a business night, and a dinner at the American Legion.
During that week, the borough is asking all residents and businesses in the Borough of Bath to decorate their homes patriotically in red, white, and blue. More information on the events can be found on the Borough of Bath Facebook page.
Following, Vice President Hesch commented on the Monocacy Creek Watershed Liaison project that is coming up on Saturday, April 9. The liaison will be planting 25 sweet gum trees, which were donated by the state. “Anybody interested in helping, meet at Borough Hall at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday.”
In other news, Council Pro Tem Barry Fenstermaker presented the playground equipment for the dog park that the Parks & Recreation Committee is looking to purchase. In total, Fenstermaker said the equipment will cost a little more than the Republican Club donated to the committee, and the remaining costs will come out of the Parks & Recreation Fund.
The Parks & Recreation Committee is also looking to purchase a portable stage that will be able to be rented out and used anywhere within the borough. More information is still to come on the matter, as the committee is still waiting to hear back from a company that does rentals in the area.
During the Mayor’s report, Mayor Mirabito brought up the speed limit machine that has been on E. Main Street, and stated the machine has a stealth mode, so even when it doesn’t look like it’s on, it is still recording. The machine is working and will be moved around the borough going forward.
Mayor Mirabito also wanted to give “a huge thank you to everyone in the borough that donated to the Ukrainian Collection Aid,” which collected a total of 10 and a half pallets of medical supplies and other items.
During the “In Progress Business” section of the meeting’s agenda, managing partner Anthony Maula and his engineering representative Salvatore Caiazzo of Bathwick Hill Apartments requested an extension for their land development plan.
Borough Solicitor James F. Kratz engaged in a lengthy conversation with Maula regarding the current violations of the property’s proposed driveway, adamantly stating the driveway violates multiple SALDO and zoning ordinances.
Maula expressed, “We intend to develop the property properly and safely, but we’re asking for an extension of time to work through the planning process and submit revised plans.”
Solicitor Kratz then recommended the council hold an executive session to deliberate.
After a lengthy deliberation, council, with recommendation from the Bath Planning Commission, unanimously voted to deny the extension of the current application from the Bathwick Hill Apartments development plan and denied the Bathwick Hills Apartment land development application with associated plans.
The Bathwick Hills plan violates more than 25 different subdivision land development and zoning rules. Bathwick Hills managing partner, Anthony Maula and his engineering representative, Sal Caiazzo are more than welcome to resubmit another application if they desire. Bath’s position has been that continual time extensions on an existing plan, with multiple land development violations, and over time has considerably deviated from the original submission requires a new application to the borough. Council voted to end the time limit extensions and ultimately that the plans as put forward are not acceptable to the borough under established land development and zoning rules.
Maula expressed, “I am disappointed in the process and in the change.”
In the next order of business, the council members unanimously granted the motion appointing, in addition to Jake Schray, SEO #03134 of Hanover Engineering as Primary SEO, the following SEOs from Hanover Engineering; Scott J. Brown, SEO #01716, Christopher A. Taylor, SEO #03138, Luke E. Eggert, SEO #04090, and Justin P. Robbins, SEEO #04079.
Following, the Howard Kulp Architects proposal, dated April 1, 2022, was motioned by Council accepting the proposal, with a pre-condition change being required to the satisfaction of the borough’s Solicitor’s office prior to signing.
Next on the agenda, two proposed ordinance amendments for council consideration and adoption were discussed.
The proposed ordinance amendment for the Vehicles & Traffic Ordinance was voted on with a unanimous “yes.” The amendment updates the Uniform Traffic Regulations, relocating a Loading Zone in front of 225 W. Northampton St. and creates No Stopping Zones.
The proposed ordinance amendment for the Property and Management Code was also granted a unanimous “yes,” which will eliminate the board of appeals process and require appeals go before the Magisterial District Court.
Council members then deliberated for a second time in an executive session regarding the Sunshine Act.
Two formal votes followed the deliberation. The first was a motion to engage with architect Howard Kovacs regarding the roof repair of the building. Borough Solicitor James F. Kratz stated he reviewed the proposed contract and has several proposed changes that he recommends. Kratz recommended that the borough move forward with the proposed contract under preconditions pursuant to a written agreement that is subject to the satisfaction of the borough solicitor from a legal standpoint.
Lastly, in a somber tone, the borough granted a motion to accept the resignation of Borough of Bath Office Administrator Marena Rasmus, which was received on Sunday, April 3, effective on the same day. The motion was granted unanimously, but Council Pro Tem Barry Fenstermaker expressed that Rasmus’ resignation is accepted “with regret.”
Rasmus served the Borough of Bath as Office Administrator for six years and will be greatly missed by the council members and the borough.
The next bi-monthly council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13 at 6 p.m., and the next regular monthly council meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 2 at 6 p.m. Both meetings will be held at the Bath Borough building, located at 121 S. Walnut St.