Parts of Greencastle rezoned, customer sewer rates raised


Greencastle Borough Council members approved rezoning of small sections of town Monday night. Charles Eckstine, James Farley, Craig Myers, Matthew Smith, Harry Foley, Frank Webster Jr., and Wade Burkholder unanimously agreed to the changes, intended to provide more options to the use of the land. Both areas were previously zoned R-2, general residential.

Property owners along West Baltimore Street had asked that their sites be changed to Highway Commercial (HC), since they were in the path of the Route 16/U.S. 11 intersection improvements. Nearby properties had already been switched to HC.

One block along West Franklin Street was changed to Community Commercial (CC), consistent with adjacent properties. The new owner of the land had not submitted any proposal to council, but intended to use it for senior housing, depending on regulations and the economy.

The Planning Commission recommended approval, as did the staff.

Citizen Robert Wertime asked that the latter zone change be delayed until a specific plan was presented. Solicitor Sam Wiser replied that contract zoning was illegal. Borough manager Kenneth Womack added that CC would give more flexibility for use.

Board president Eckstine said, "We can't pick and choose the businesses. We need to consider what's in the best interest of the borough for a tax base."

Rates rise

Council amended the sewer ordinance to raise sewer rates for customers. Quarterly rates will go up from $5 to $6 per thousand gallons, with the minimum charge of $45 raised to $54 per quarter, effective Jan. 1.

A resolution also passed to raise sewer rates for Antrim Township. Greencastle's charge to Antrim to process some of its customers' wastewater at the borough treatment plant was raised from $4.22 to $5.06 per thousand gallons. The new fee will not affect the customer rates directly. The township, borough and Greencastle Franklin County Authority entered into an agreement March 24, 1990 to handle the waste. Antrim's customers pay the township, which turns over some of the money to Greencastle.

"Their rates are higher than ours to begin with," said Eckstine. "They're making money off us."

The increase to Antrim was allowed only after borough rates went up. The last sewer rate increase was in 2004.

Gannet Fleming engineer Mark Pickering explained why bids were $250,000 higher than expected for improvements to the wastewater treatment plant, required by DEP to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The work had to be done by Nov. 1.

"It wasn't exactly good news," Foley said of the bids.

Pickering said lower contract prices in the past few years didn't apply for this project, as the workload was too small for large companies, too big for small companies, and some were just too busy, or the location was inconvenient. While the electrical bid was on target, everything else was higher than planned.

"We have to get moving," said Womack. "I think we'll be OK with reserves to cover it."

Contracts were awarded to the apparent low bidders: general, Conawago Enterprises of Hanover, $882,427 (estimate was $678,500); plumbing, Edwin L. Heim of Harrisburg, $69,890 (estimate was $53,400); HVAC, Heim, $106,656 (estimate was $39,800); and electrical, Monocacy Valley Electric of Littlestown, $120,000 (estimate was the same).

Comcast deal

Borough council also renewed the Cable Franchise Agreement with Comcast of Pennsylvania/Maryland. First initiated in 1996, the latest contract expired in August 2011, but continued monthly until a deal was brokered between the utility provider and Wiser, on behalf of the borough. Comcast has, and will continue, to submit 5 percent of gross revenue from borough customers to Greencastle, which equals about $66,000 annually. New benefits for the approved 12-year contract are: Comcast will provide one educational/governmental (EG) channel, it will give Greencastle a $28,000 grant for EG functions, and it will provide one free cable service to each school and municipal building in the local territory.

Womack credited Wiser with negotiating such a good deal. It was based on his experience in other communities and his knowledge of such agreements.

Other business

Police chief John Phillippy asked for two replacement squad cars for the department. He was comfortable with used, since the new models were not yet field-tested for glitches. Council approved the most pressing need, a vehicle suitable for the canine officer. The current car had been out of commission for over two months, so Rony had been riding in the backseat while on patrol with his handler. The goal was a vehicle with 50,000 miles for around $15,000.

A resident, on behalf of her neighbors on South Carlisle Street, asked for a street light at the intersection of Carlisle and U.S. 11 South. It was difficult to find the street in the dark, and both roads carried a lot of traffic.

"I'm interested in preventing a very bad accident," she said.

The board was open to helping, but was waiting to hear from West Penn on where the light should go, and would then determine if the spot was in the borough or the township.

May 4 and 5 were designated bulky item collection days.