Antrim nixes severe fees

PAT FRIDGEN

Antrim Township supervisors decided not to squeeze developers with new fees allowed by law, after obtaining more information on Act 46 at the Jan. 10 board meeting. The topic had been presented at a previous meeting, with zoning officer Sylvia House recommending not to enact the fees for automatic extensions of land development plans. She had stated it took little time by staff to do any paperwork related to the state initiative to let stagnant construction plans remain active until 2013.

The board asked for details, which she shared last Tuesday.

The act did not apply to any extensions still in the review process, but projects heading for the five-year expiration date for preliminary or final approval would automatically get the extra time to start making improvements to the land. Therefore, if the developer wanted a verification letter for its financial institution, Antrim could charge up to $100 for residential and $500 for commercial developments, House said.

"We write letters frequently now, but they don't take a lot of time. But you have the right to charge."

Also, Antrim could charge 25 percent of the original application fee on the date the plan would have expired. Currently Paradise Estates on Hoffman Road was the only development to fit that category, and it's assessment could have been $956.

Another 25 percent rate could be levied on land use permits, which now are good for 18 months, or 36 months for plans valued over $1 million. The current policy is that Antrim grants two extensions, and then the developer reapplies and pays a prorated fee for work not completed. With the Act 46 extension, Antrim could charge a portion of the regular permit fee of $25 and 10 cents per square foot.

"It's not expensive. We now get their letter requesting an extension, attach it to the permit and write in the log. It takes seconds and we don't charge them," House told the supervisors.

Solicitor John Lisko reminded board members Fred Young III, Rick Baer, Pat Heraty, John Alleman and James Byers that if any charge was made, the amount was discretionary.

Alleman favored at least a minimal fee for the verification letter, since his employer had to pay for any changes in Maryland. Byers also wanted to recoup any costs. Baer feared a room full of people if they chose the 25 percent plan application fee, but also thought it was "steep".

"Even though we can (charge), doesn't mean we should," said Young.

On an Alleman/Baer motion, the board unanimously decided to only charge for the verification letters, $25 and $50.

ATMA business

Since the supervisors will meet with the Antrim Township Municipal Authority on Jan. 30, township administrator Brad Graham brought them up to speed to the lease agreement for the sewer system. When the sewer bonds were refinanced last March, the modified agreement left ATMA as the owner of the system and the township operated it. Both organizations had agreed in the past the plan was cumbersome and difficult. ATMA members had indicated they wanted something to change, that it run the system independently or Antrim took it over. The least favorable option was to maintain the status quo over the long term.

Graham said the expectation at the meeting was for a decision to be made.

"You need to get your thoughts together."

Other business

Antrim will send a notice of violation to the property owner of 542 E. Baltimore St. The sidewalk was a trip hazard. The owner had not responded to a letter already, but Antrim had proof it was delivered. If compliance is not met in 30 days, the matter could go to court.

A resident has asked the township to install a street light at Molly Pitcher Highway South and South Carlisle Street. The board was reluctant since it would set a precedent. They instead chose to send a letter to PennDOT to address the issue.

Alleman was accepted into the township insurance program.

Following an executive session, the board agreed to advertise for a utilities department employee.