Norfolk Southern issues time-consuming for township

Antrim Township was not able to secure contracted mowing services for 2010 and decided last week to use employees for the task. The township will purchase two more machines soon, one to be used for roadside mowing.

Two hours of a three hour meeting of the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors May 25 were devoted to an executive session. The meeting itself started 20 minutes late as supervisors drifted in to create a quorum.

Chairman Rick Baer, Sam Miller, Fred Young III and Curtis Myers, with James Byers absent, met with Janet Miller, an attorney with Hawke, McKeon and Sniscak LLP, Harrisburg, for 90 minutes. They were joined by three representatives from Norfolk Southern for the last half hour.

On the return to public session, Antrim solicitor John Lisko recommended that Miller be hired at $225 per hour to represent the township on any litigation before the Public Utilities Commission resulting from Norfolk Southern actions. The measure passed 4-0.

Township administrator Brad Graham said later that the rail company had filed an application with the Pennsylvania PUC to construct an intermodal facility near Exit 3, and depending on the response, Antrim would use the expertise of Miller as needed. Her firm specializes in governmental regulations.

The latest round of negotiations has involved ownership of Milnor Road once it is split into two cul-de-sacs near the terminal, and financial responsibility for maintenance of the proposed Hykes Road bridge.

The board also discussed personnel during the private session and returned to hire Drake Nicholas for $275 per hour on a COBRA issue. He is a partner at Rhodes and Sinon LLP, Harrisburg.

Exit 3

Geoffrey Lilja, a partner with Chesapeake Real Estate Group, answered questions concerning the assumption agreement with Atapco. Antrim and the commercial developer have agreed to terms on financial security during reconstruction of Exit 3, said Lisko, but he wanted to make sure the township's connector road, Grindstone Hill Road extended, when completed, would have access to U.S. 11.

With PennDOT's requirement for 90 degree angles at intersections, the realigned northbound exit would meet the state road by the Comfort Inn parking lot entrance. That was shy of the meeting point for the connector road. Lisko wanted a statement in the agreement guaranteeing direct access. Since no formal design had yet been submitted by Atapco, he didn't expect a problem with the stipulation. He acknowledged zoning officer Sylvia House caught a potential snag.

She explained, "The design in Atapco's traffic study would eliminate access. With the concept design we got, it doesn't look like a good situation."

Lilja responded, "It's a PennDOT issue, not something we can control."

He agreed to meet with township and state officials to find a solution.

"The connector road's not going to work if you can't get out," concluded Lisko.

Other business

The board refunded Tuscarora Landscaping $762 of its $2,350 bid bond, submitted higher than was necessary. The small company was unable to obtain a performance bond for its township mowing bid, and so could not be hired. Graham asked the supervisors, using best practices, to purchase mowing equipment if they wanted employees to mow the parks and other properties rather than contracting out.

"In-house is the most effective, though not necessarily the lowest cost," he said.

The board agreed to bid out a large tractor for roadside mowing, and use Pennsylvania's CoStars program to buy a finish mower for lawns and ballfields.

Graham said later the staff was "barely keeping up" with mowing and he was hoping for drier weather soon. The township currently uses one high-production and one standard mower.