Residents ask Antrim and Norfolk Southern to do more


Several residents asked the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors to require more of Norfolk Southern before it began construction of its intermodal facility in 2011. Acting chair Curtis Myers, James Byers, Sam Miller and Fred Young III took in the comments Nov. 23. Chairman Rick Baer was absent.

Brenda McQuait, speaking on behalf of others, said Robert Wertime's plea at a previous meeting was exactly what she believed was necessary. He had asked for some standards to assure air quality once 500 to 1,000 trucks a day entered the township to load and unload cargo at the terminal.

"Our air quality is failing," she said, citing examples near TA Truck Stop at Exit 5. "What can we do as a community to protect ourselves from carbon monoxide?"

She cautioned that perhaps Antrim leadership was not as street smart as the NS personnel, and therefore did not ask for things they could have gotten during negotiations.

Wertime said he had brought up his concerns four times over the years. He supported the rail facility, but in his correspondence with the Environmental Protection Agency, some issues should have been addressed two years ago, and the public utility was required to meet certain environmental standards, but nothing was on record.

"I'm not faulting anyone on this board, or (solicitor John) Lisko," Wertime said. "I'm concerned with people being able to breathe." He encouraged the supervisors take a lead and create a first class complex that was not detrimental to residents.

Miller said the Rescue Hose Company had not received any information from NS on what would be carried on the trucks. Other municipalities along rail lines had asked for and received major concessions from the company. He wanted Antrim to deny permits and sewer service until NS followed the same land development plans as any other developer. He was also upset that he had wanted to be in on discussions with NS, and his job allowed him to be available on Mondays and Fridays, but the supervisors who scheduled the meetings always chose another day. He asked the board to stand unified in asking NS to fix the Williamsport Pike/Hykes Road intersection, since its closure of Milnor Road would make the risky intersection even more dangerous. He was still waiting for Lisko to research anything NS was obligated to do before construction.

Young said Antrim's agreement with NS excluded them from improving the intersection, but Miller countered he had just reread the agreement and that issue was not part of it.

Byers expressed his frustration that NS might never submit a land development plan. Zoning officer Sylvia House added that NS had turned in information but didn't believe it needed township approval for anything. As for the air quality, she said the company had to abide by EPA standards.

Some sharp words passed between the supervisors during the course of the discussion.

John McQuait reacted. "Why so much anger between you? The purpose of fixing the intersection is to save lives. Why not fix it?"

Myers asked Miller to be the point man in any contact with NS, to which Byers said staff members should have been involved all along. Myers also asked Brenda McQuait to take on the task of contacting EPA. Miller replied that residents expected the supervisors to be in charge.

The board voted 4-0 to ask PennDOT to conduct a traffic study at the troubling intersection.

Other business

The board finally selected a public works director. The post had been vacant since Feb. 15, though Baer filled in parttime. Tom Davis, Hagerstown, Md., a licensed civil engineer with experience in government and municipal work, was hired for $50,000 a year. He was to begin his duties the week of Nov. 29.

Payment of $1,712 to Global Data Consultants was withheld until some problems with its computer software and support were solved. Young said the new system had been online for six months and there were still bugs.

Husam Obeid from P. Joseph Lehman updated the board on ways to wisely spend the $240,000 on Martin's Mill Bridge with earmarked funds awarded through Rep. Bill Shuster's office. The firm recommended a new roof, siding, structural repair, paint, fire retardant and a concrete abutment, which would extend the life of the historic bridge 20 years. The work would be done in the summer of 2011. He said they were seeking additional grants, and if big money came in, they could install steel beams which would make the bridge strong for many more years.

House went over possible changes to the Fireworks Sales Establishments ordinance, which would allow Keystone Fireworks to become a retail sales outlet at Exit 3. She said Antrim went overboard when it wrote the ordinance a few years ago after Sky King Fireworks started plans for a facility at Exit 1. That project in State Line was currently inactive.

While Sky King was in community commercial, House said Keystone would be in highway commercial, but the clause for conditional use was overkill. She advised changing parameters for fire suppression systems, setbacks, lot sizes and parking.

Brian Shaub from Keystone said, "Sylvia went beyond what I asked for. The way it is now, you won't have fireworks stores."

He intended to have one section of his store carry legal items for Pennsylvania residents, and the rest would cater to people from out of state.

Miller and Byers said that meeting was the first they heard of the plan, so they were not ready to vote. The issue was postponed to the Dec. 14 agenda.

During the budget discussion, improving Ridge Road was dropped and spending for municipal building upgrades was lowered to $150,000. The revenues were approved at $3.8 million and expenses at $3.3 million.