Greencastle Borough Council clarifies reasons for curb and sidewalk standards

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Residents spoke up about round 3 of Greencastle’s curb and sidewalk enforcement policy at the borough council meeting Oct. 6. Midway through the five-year cycle to bring all concrete work into compliance with safety standards, some people didn’t like the parameters.

Paul Politis, 357 Blue Bird Trail, reported that he had received a letter and photos of a small section of his yard by the sidewalk which needed to be filled in with topsoil. He accomplished the fix in minutes. His neighbor needed a $25 permit before patching a two-inch by one-inch chip in her curb.

“I think the rules have to be administered with common sense,” he said. “Why does this require major borough action?”

Mike Luger, 290 Ronald Drive, questioned why the permit fee was waived for some people but not for him. He also had a chip in his curb caused by a snowplow seven years ago. He had not complained because it was so small. He knew he would be able to fill the chip easily.

Borough manager Susan Armstrong took responsibility for the fees. She had decided to only assess those property owners needing concrete work.

Council president Charles Eckstine explained that the borough created the curb and sidewalk policy several years ago to protect residents and the borough from getting sued and to provide safe places to walk. Greencastle had been involved in three lawsuits in the past from people who had tripped.

Armstrong added that the borough engineer from Frederick, Seibert and Associates had followed a guidebook when choosing which properties to notify for compliance issues.

“We try to take the subjectivity out of it,” she said. “One of the issues is small trip hazards will get worse over time.”

She said the whole process was a learning experience, and she was open to revisiting the criteria once the first cycle was over.

Of the 130 letters sent to residents south of West Baltimore Street and west of South Carlisle Street, only 16 were for topsoil issues. The cooperation rate for phases 1 and 2 had been excellent. She added that if borough snowplows caused damage, as agreed by the public works director, the town would make the repair. The $25 fee for others covered the initial inspection and return to assure compliance with specifications.

Personnel

Council hired William Rohrbaugh as part-time community service officer/zoning inspector. The job takes effect Nov. 3. His rate of pay was $10 per hour, with a schedule between 15 and 20 hours per week.

His responsibilities include property inspections, investigating complaints, evidence collection, assisting with code enforcement issues, and checking parking meters.

Armstrong saw his role as proactive instead of reactive.

“He will be on foot throughout the community,” she said. “He will be the face of Greencastle.”

Council members Eckstine, James Farley, Frank Webster Jr., Larry Faight and Wade Burkholder also approved the collective bargaining agreement between the borough and the Greencastle Patrolmen’s Association, valid for three years beginning Jan. 1, 2015. Craig Myers and Matt Smith were absent.

Armstrong and Farley represented the borough in negotiations. The officers will receive a 1.5 percent raise every six months. The public servants were  responsible for any excise tax for their high quality plan of health care coverage when it is enacted under the Affordable Care Act, or the union could redesign the plan. The previous agreement had been for two years.

The base salary for 2015, 2016 and 2017 were $43,191, $44,491 and $45,833, plus expected overtime.

Officer Keith Russell was present, and thanked the council for the professional negotiations.