Sewer service area map under fire, supervisors face recurring issues
Antrim Township's proposed sewer service area map met opposition by the Planning Commission, and on Sept. 14 the Board of Supervisors reviewed a letter explaining why. The concerns of the commission paralleled those of supervisor Sam Miller, who blasted the map designed and approved by Antrim Township Municipal Authority last Tuesday as well as on Aug. 24. The potential new map was approved by ATMA on July 26. It followed topography in aligning areas of the township eligible for public sewer.
Planning Commission solicitor Deborah Hoff wrote that the members on Sept. 13 had compared the sewer map with proposed changes to the zoning map. The PC members were united that the sewer service area needed to follow the zoning districts in order to preserve agricultural land and only provide sewer in areas where development should be encouraged. She continued that there was concern the new map would provide service in portions of the agricultural district and also ignore some areas that could be developed.
"The Planning Commission believes that the coordination of the two proposals is essential to developing a proper and workable plan, and that the proposed maps should therefore be reviewed with this in mind," she wrote.
She spoke on behalf of PC members Lester Musselman, Joel Wenger, Delbert Myers, Richard Walck and Larry Eberly.
"I agree wholeheartedly with the letter," said Miller.
Fred Young III supported ATMA's methodology, but Miller countered that sewer service should follow property lines, and be allowed only in high density areas because citizens did not want unmanaged growth.
The board decided to schedule a worksession with the PC and ATMA to hash out the issues.
A split vote didn't go the way Pat Coggins hoped. The Atapco vice president of development asked the board to favor one of two options for maintenance of a traffic light when installed on U.S. 11 at Antrim Commons Drive. Atapco had agreed at the previous meeting to put $100,000 into escrow for a light at Exit 3 near Comfort Inn. He wanted to make a one-time $100,000 payment for the second light as well. An alternative was to reimburse Antrim for expenses each year indefinitely.
Coggins found the second choice complicated as he dealt with different businesses that purchased lots. The last buyer would inherit a lien. The reimbursement route would be cheaper overall, he said, but involved much more paperwork. Nevertheless, on a Miller/James Byers motion, with Rick Baer in agreement, the board opted to send Atapco a yearly bill for maintenance. Young and Curtis Myers voted no.
A concession stand for Antrim Township Community Park earned a third chance to be built. After a contentious discussion, the board voted 5-0 to put it out to bid again. Over the summer the supervisors rejected the low bid of $139,353 for a 30 x 30 one story building, with Byers and Miller adamant the number was too high, and at another meeting the majority voted to not build one at all. In August the topic resurfaced, and chairman Baer said he would seek volunteers to construct the facility. He reported Sept. 14 that effort was unsuccessful.
Miller criticized the first round of bids, some of which did not follow specs and offered artificially low numbers. He thought they should have been thrown out.
"They (the contractors) would have to eat it," said Myers. "As long as the work gets done, who cares?"
"Because it penalizes the guy who bids correctly," replied Miller.
Byers concurred. "If they don't do it by the book, they shouldn't be rewarded."
With cost-cutting measures included in the next design, township administrator Brad Graham said the concession stand could be rebid, with half the cost covered by a DCNR grant, or the township could choose not to use the funds. He expected the advertising expense to once more run about $1,000.
Young again confronted Byers and Miller, wanting to know what was the lowest bid they would accept. In the middle of the argument, a Baer/Miller motion to rebid was put on the floor. It passed 5-0.
Tom Mongold, developer of Heritage Estates West, requested he not be required to post a bond or letter of credit in order to proceed with infrastructure in Phase I. He had obtained a first mortage, "a miracle", for recreation and repair and improvement fees, and money due Greencastle Area Franklin County Water Authority. However, he told the board, "With the economy, nobody's going to get bonding."
The township wanted a $3,175,440 bond, but he asked that instead Antrim hold a second mortgage and he would not sell lots until the infrastructure was done. Byers was concerned that if the project went under, the township would own the land.
Zoning officer Sylvia House believed the Municipal Planning Code allowed such a financial arrangement but solicitor John Lisko thought it was beyond the intended scope.
"It's very creative," he said. "If you want to help the developer, I'll do my best to work it out."
He confirmed that theoretically Antrim could end up as the property owner, but it was very unlikely.
Mongold criticized the ordinance under which the land development plan was filed. "One word throws us into this. The stupid word 'PRD' requires a bond."
He was ready to excavate, and a permit to cross a stream for sewer expired in November.
Lisko suggested one solution was to not record the plan. Mongold's attorney Bryan Salzmann was anxious to get the project moving.
The board finally authorized Lisko and Salzmann to write an agreement on a second mortgage, Mongold would not sell lots or build until all fees were paid, and the subdivision plan would not be signed or recorded at the courthouse until financial security was provided or infrastructure was complete.
Denise McDowell told the board the homeowners association in Melrose Meadows was willing to take over the spare 10-acre lot that developer Tom Shook no longer wanted to maintain, and Antrim did not want either. The residents intended to plant trees in the area between phases 1 and 2. There would also be a green space for the neighbors to use, but not the general public.