Controversy peppers Antrim supervisor meeting

PAT FRIDGEN
Pat Coggins and Paul Schemel, representing Atapco, met with Antrim Township supervisors to iron out details on an Assumption Agreement for infrastructure at Exit 3.

Questions on a new sewer service area map for Antrim Township arose at the Aug. 24 meeting of the Board of Supervisors. The map, approved by the Antrim Township Municipal Authority on July 26, was presented to the board by ATMA chair Bob Coladonato and member Bob Schemmerling. The two had visited areas of the township and used topography to select the sections to be included for sewer service. Some land was added and some taken out from the previous map. ATMA had no intention of building more lift stations beyond the 23 already in use, said Coladonato.

Supervisor Sam Miller said the map, created to comply with Act 537, added agricultural residential zones that shouldn't be allowed to be serviced by public sewer from a financial standpoint. He also believed the sewer service map conflicted with the new zoning map the supervisors had approved and which was being prepared for a public hearing.

"Things change every meeting," countered Fred Young III. "It's not adopted yet."

Miller objected to rural two-acre lots which could become part of the service area. Other ATMA customers would have to help fund the maintenance, he said, and the board in previous years had tried to set boundaries to control growth. He wanted the west side of Grant Shook Road and Conococheague Lane to remain agricultural. Because a 200-foot strip of Schemmerling's property on the lane was included in the service area, he also wondered what benefit came from that.

"It's a conflict of interest for someone on ATMA making that decision," Miller said. "It's questionable."

Schemmerling responded, "I have never done anything to personally benefit myself ever. You've made this personal. I only care about the maximum use of your facilities."

Miller apologized for offending him, but said the zoning maps were already getting printed. Chairman Rick Baer intervened, "We appointed ATMA. You're micromanaging by checking on what they're doing."

James Byers also said if the map didn't follow property lines, only topography, it could be difficult for Antrim staff to determine who was in and out of the area.

Coladonato reminded the board that if the zoning changed, ATMA could change the sewer map.

More controversy

Patrick Coggins, vice president of development for Atapco Properties, accompanied by attorney Paul Schemel, expressed frustration at the inability of Antrim and Atapco to wrap up issues pertaining to an Assumption Agreement.

Antrim administrator Brad Graham explained that Antrim would not sign the agreement, required before Antrim and PennDOT could reach a Reimbursement Agreement, because of outstanding issues on maintenance of traffic lights. Antrim had to apply for the lights, which could range in number based on PennDOT's assessment, as well as the traffic studies conducted by Atapco and Norfolk Southern.

At the Aug. 10 meeting the supervisors had mentioned $50,000 as an amount for a traffic light escrow account, but Coggins had received a last minute email from Graham that the figure was now $100,000. The money was for a light by Comfort Inn at Exit 3.

Coggins also referred to a side agreement on the connector road which he hadn't seen. He thought Antrim should be relying on its staff to negotiate details and take their recommendations to a vote. The delays could be costing him a client, he said. A company which would bring in a significant number of jobs and a tax base wanted a move-in date, which he could not provide. A second party was also interested in the property.

If an agreement couldn't be reached, Coggins concluded, "Your $3 million interchange goes away. We move down the road and I have a cornfield with a road in it. We've been talking about this for a year, guys. We need to get this done."

Solicitor John Lisko added that Atapco had also changed its position on issues over the months. He also emphasized that the township was a conduit for the money, and the Assumption Agreement actually gave Atapco all rights on the intersection design.

Eventually Coggins agreed to the $100,000 for escrow, though he considered the amount "egregious". Attorneys for Atapco and Antrim planned to meet within the week to iron out other details.

Resident Robert Smith had the final word on the dissension. He criticized the supervisors for potentially blocking development for tax-generating businesses. "What is so wrong with paying the maintenance of a traffic light? You are penny wise and dollar foolish holding people's feet to the fire on changing light bulbs and repairing poles that trucks knock over."

Other business

Board members discussed changes in procedures for the depository accounts moving to Susquehanna Bank. After a discussion Aug. 10, Baer, Miller and Young approved switching banks, based on fees taking effect at Tower Bank on Sept. 1. Byers opposed the change. Curtis Myers was absent at both meetings.

Graham had recommended the shift after obtaining quotes on services from four banks.

The board met in executive session on personnel. Graham was present for one session and not the other.