The Lehigh Township Board of Supervisors met on January 10 at 7 p.m. Board vice-chairman Cynthia Miller ran the meeting in chairman Michael Jones’s absence.
After approving minutes for both the December 13 supervisors meeting and the January 3 reorganization meeting, the board reviewed planning items. An extension was approved by the planning commission for William Jones III regarding land development; the plan was set to expire on January 30, and the board confirmed the approval of extending the plan until June 30. It was clarified the land in question is on Municipal Drive next to the American Legion.
Township Engineer Michael Muffley reported that clearing ground for stormwater basins at the Northwoods project is currently in progress. He noted it was a quiet December with no new plans submitted. The planning commission met on January 9 and discussed a proposal for a solar farm, which is likely to be submitted next month.
Public Works Director Frank Zamadics observed that several of his workers were on vacation during the month of December, which was a largely quiet month. Because of the abundance of mud caused by recent rains, the township’s dog park has been closed and will remain closed until April. The yard waste site will be closed in February and March to allow for maintenance, as discussed at the previous board meeting. The marked dead trees have been removed near Indian Trail Park; Zamadics said that someone has been taking the felled trees for firewood, and that they are welcome to it.
Elizabeth Amato of the Zoning Board reported no new cases in December, though she expects an appeal for a notice of violation to be submitted in February. The solar company mentioned during the engineer’s report has signed an extension through the end of February and is eager to schedule a hearing as soon as possible. Township Solicitor David Backenstoe took a moment to remind residents that trees are falling quite a bit due to recent high winds, and that any trees on private property which fall on township roads are the responsibility of the homeowner.
Fire Commissioner Richard Hildebrand provided the department’s year-end report. The department responded to 440 incidents in 2022, including 91 fires and 54 hazardous conditions. Board member Philip Gogel complimented the report as being thorough and comprehensive. The ladder and engine truck has been repaired, and the committee is almost finished drafting specs for a new ladder truck, which will be sent out for bids. The department has applied for a grant for safety devices for personnel in the wake of the tragic deaths of the New Tripoli officers; as Hildebrand said, no one wants to see anything like that happen ever again.
It was decided that going forward, the township’s municipal authority will be asked to submit a monthly report and have a representative attend board meetings.
Curb cuts have been poured at the Cherryville intersection; PennDOT has completed their final inspection but no reports have been issued yet. Township Manager Alice Rehrig reported that the maintenance building committee met just after Christmas and have decided to put the project back out to bid in February, but will keep the excavation cost separate from the main project. Board member Gerald Pritchard explained that the excavation is the biggest line item, so getting a separate bid for that aspect will help to keep costs down. The board approved the committee’s decision.
The board next discussed an ordinance and three resolutions. The ordinance is expected to correct some inconsistencies in Cluster Development Resolution, which will allow cluster development across all zones; Rehrig will draft an amendment for solicitor Backenstoe’s approval and the proposed ordinance will be advertised for public comment. The three resolutions concern establishing fee schedules for the Sewage Enforcement Officer, the police department, and building permits. The Sewage Enforcement resolution would bring that fee in line with current regulations; the police resolution will increase shooting range fees to $25 per officer and also add a 25 cent photocopying fee; and the building permit resolution will change wording regarding electricity supply and also increase the fee to be in line with other commercial fees. All three resolutions were approved.
Two grants have been received from Northampton County. One is for security needs and must be used this year; Rehrig suggested beginning with security cameras and keyless access for the municipal building and police station. She will research updated pricing to bring to the board. The other grant is for emergency services and will be used for the purchase of a new police cruiser. Chief Fogel has also applied for and received a software grant which will allow the police filing systems to be fully upgraded.
A debt collector representing Deere Country has contacted the township regarding the outstanding charges. Rehrig will reply with the board’s intent to dispute the charges and provide copies of all letters which have been sent to Deere Country previously.
On a final note, discussion was held regarding businesses in the township. The old Kmart has been purchased by a property firm in Allentown, which is advertising it for lease for warehousing or wholesaling purposes; in the meantime, they are allowing the fire department to use the parking lot. Turkey Hill is still working with PennDOT on their plans to relocate, but nothing can be done by the township to move the project forward. The board then adjourned for an executive session to discuss personnel issues.
The next supervisors meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. in the municipal building at 1069 Municipal Rd., Walnutport.