The Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, October 25 to continue their review of the 2023 budget. First was a discussion of the Zoning Hearing Board’s expenses; they sent a letter to the supervisors regarding what they discovered while reviewing invoices. Per the request of the Board of Supervisors, attorney Neil Ettinger will break down the legal charges for all zoning board hearings.
The next item examined was the range fees charged by the police shooting range. Other municipalities sometimes use the Lehigh Township range, for which they pay a fee. Board member David Hess suggested having Police Chief Scott Fogel present data about the fees at the next meeting, so the board can determine whether these fees should be increased.
Township Manager Alice Rehrig was able to provide all the remaining missing pieces of information in the newest printing of the budget, although she has yet to hear anything about any of the grants for which the township has applied.
Fire Commissioner Richard Hildebrand reported that the apparatus committee is putting together information for the board about the costs of maintaining fire equipment, which he hopes will be ready by the end of the year. The funds available for these costs will depend on what grant money the township is able to get. Further budget discussion was tabled until the November 8 meeting.
Regarding the Turkey Hill project in Cherryville, it was reported that the township’s contractor has completed the accessibility project mentioned during the September meetings. Board member Cynthia Miller stated that the board needs to have a concrete completion date. Rehrig has told the contractor that paperwork must be completed by the end of the year. Turkey Hill’s original submission with PennDOT was returned, so they have now made a second submission.
Deere Country has stated they will be following their process for collections in regards to the unpaid invoices. They want an additional $2,600 on top of what has already been paid. Board member Gerald Pritchard proposed simply paying the bill to end the situation, but Township Solicitor David Backenstoe objected due to the circumstances. Board member Philip Gogel agreed with Backenstoe, citing it to be a “matter of principle,” and the board decided to take no action as yet.
Copies of the revised amendment concerning personal shooting ranges were provided to board members, and it was approved unanimously. The ranges will now be held to the commonwealth’s standards as stated at the October 11 meeting; firearm ranges must be at least 150 yards from dwellings, and archery ranges at least 75 yards.
The fire department gave the board a report on their apparatus. They have not yet looked at the used truck being sold as mentioned at the previous meeting, but the department examined the numbers and believes the truck in question is nearing retirement age, so they do not recommend moving forward with the purchase. A lengthy debate followed, in which Hildebrand and the board members debated the feasibility of purchasing a new truck versus a used one. The board is in agreement that the department deserves the township’s support, but raising the funds to purchase a brand new truck is challenging even if a fire tax were to be implemented. It was noted that this is a problem for many municipal fire companies. Hildebrand was encouraged to at least look at the used pumper truck, and Board President Michael Jones found information about a used 2016 ladder truck for sale, which he promised to share with Hildebrand. Getting both of these trucks would buy the township time to save money for the purchase of new ones, although it was agreed that the board must wait until they know what grant money will be coming before any decisions are finalized.
Sandra Hopkins of the recreation committee brought the new graphic of the proposed sign for Bryfogle field, which was approved by the board. Hopkins is still gathering information about a public address system.
The board received a request from a township resident for a waiver of a foundation location and elevation survey. On the advice of Township Engineer Michael Muffley, the board voted to deny the waiver. This was followed by a discussion regarding the ad hoc committee, which is working on amendments; Miller suggested outsourcing some of the work to a clerical person. The subject was sent back to the committee for discussion so that they can decide how best to relieve pressure on their volunteers.
In other news, an ordinance has been authorized to make the speed limit on West Walker Road 35 mph. Also, the police department reported that the cruiser car which was hit by a deer is costing $966.14 in repairs.
Rehrig is submitting a request for a grant from the DEP for $34,000 to make improvements to the township recycling facilities.
Township leaf collection will begin on November 7, with residential collection beginning November 14.
The next Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, beginning at 8 p.m. due to the election, in the municipal building at 1069 Municipal Rd.