2009-09-10 / Front Page

Council Gives Final OK To County Plans

Approval allows county to proceed with rehab, renovations

After four meetings with Fulton County commissioners and their engineer over the past five months, McConnellsburg Borough Council finally granted approval to the county's rehab and renovation plans at its regular meeting last Wednesday evening. During a roll-call vote, only council President Rick Buterbaugh voted "no," although Mayor Jim Stenger also adamantly opposed the plan.

In April 2009, Commissioner David Hoover first unveiled the county's plan to make improvements to the West Spruce Street alley that runs past the county jail and connects with the North First Avenue alley. Hoover told council members that the county wants to straighten the alley and blacktop the parking lot. He said plans will include proper management of stormwater runoff from the lot. Hoover also said the county will then maintain the alley along with the parking lot in terms of snowplowing and maintenance. No formal plan was submitted at that meeting.

Then in July council met with Hoover and Chris Beauregard of CEDG Engineers to discuss the formal plans outlining the county's renovations in a three-phase plan to refurbish the courthouse and an adjacent parking lot. Beauregard explained then that phases one and two of the plan would include a geothermal heating and cooling system for the courthouse and the replacement of the bell tower. It will also include replacing windows panes with double-pane glasses, relocating restrooms on the first floor of the courthouse and replacing the stairway to the second floor. The plan also includes work to be done on McConnell Park, but a portion of the county's plan brought objections from council when the engineer announced that West Spruce Street would be made one-way gong west, and that the roadway out of the parking lot to the north of West Spruce Street will be closed off entirely, all to limit access on North Second Street/Route 522. Beauregard said that PennDOT prefers the limited access in such projects. However, Buterbaugh reminded Hoover and Beauregard that only council can grant permission to make the borough's streets and/or alleys oneway and that this was not discussed or approved when the county brought the initial plans to the borough. Stenger, who owns property at the west end of the parking lot, also vehemently opposed making the alley oneway and closing off the other entrance/ exit. Hoover was told the county would need to submit that plan again to the council for consideration.

In August, Beauregard met again with council, and Stenger again said traffic flow should not change in the parking lot and cited the need for garbage haulers to be able to enter and exit the lot. The engineer was instructed to submit plans again in September with more traffic flow detail.

On Wednesday evening, Commissioners Hoover and Bonnie Mellott Keefer along with Beauregard brought detailed traffic flow plans to the council. The plans still called for West Spruce Street to be one-way going west to the North First Avenue alley. The second exit to Route 522/North Second Street will be closed off with curbing, and traffic will still be able to exit on Maple, Walnut and First streets. The plans also call for the demolition of three houses along North Second Street.

Beauregard had prepared traffic flow diagrams using a fire truck, a garbage truck and a tractor-trailer truck to illustrate that traffic could flow safely through the lot. The discussion became heated when Stenger called the engineer's diagrams "a bunch of b.s." Beauregard responded that for traffic to exit from West Spruce Street, the porch would have to be taken off the old jail in order to have the sight distance required by Penn- DOT. Mellott Keefer said they were not going to take the porch off the jail because it was needed to make the jail handicappedaccessible.

The engineer also answered questions on stormwater runoff. Most council members were convinced by the presentation and upon hearing that the county's plan had been approved by the planning commission and by the Conservation District, council members voted 6-1 on a Mike Chilcote/Lee Rager motion to give final approval to the county's plan.

It was noted that council will need to pass an ordinance making the West Spruce Street alley one-way, but council tabled that pending a decision by the commissioners on when they would want the designation to begin.

During new business, borough solicitor Carlton Walker convened a public hearing on a proposed ordinance establishing one-way traffic on East Poplar Street from the intersection with a Todd Township alley immediately east of Crystal Drive (behind McDonald's restaurant) to its intersection with the meeting points of Lions Park Drive and Sixth Street. The alley has been marked one-way for some time and the ordinance was passed to codify it, according to Walker. There was no public comment on the ordinance and it was passed.

Borough secretary Jack Fields informed council that under Act 32 pertaining to the earned income tax (EIT), the first meeting of the Tax Collection Committee will be convened on October 8 at 7 p.m. The committee will consist of one voting delegate and one alternate from all of the county's municipalities and school districts. The committee will be charged with selecting one entity to collect all county earned income tax. Council appointed Mike Chilcote as its delegate and Jim Smith as the alternate.

During routine business, council voted to grant a parade permit to the Chamber of Commerce and Grease, Steam & Rust for the 36th annual Fall Folk Festival parade on Saturday, October 17. Pennsylvania State Police and the fire company's fire police will be responsible for crowd control.

The borough announced it will hold a fall clean-up day on Friday, September 25. Bulky items may be placed curbside on Thursday evening for pickup on Friday.

Council also received a notice from Comcast that it wishes to renew its franchise with the borough when the current one has expired. Council gave the notice to its solicitor. There are three years remaining on the current agreement.

The council received correspondence from the planning commission notifying them that a stormwater discussion will be held on September 29.

Council discussed various properties in the borough that are in violation of junk and weed ordinances. Attorney Walker was directed to send a citation to a Maple Street property owner.

Council also announced that South First Street from Lincoln Way to Maple Street will be closed beginning September 8 for Water Authority work on the street.

Finally in new business, council President Buterbaugh commented on properties that have modified borough curbing by applying asphalt or cold pack out into the street. The matter was referred to the street committee.

Regular business

During regular business, council approved payment of August bills in the amount of $12,055.98. Receipts for the same period were $17,419.56. Checks were written for $12,515.48, leaving a September 1 balance of $52,506.49.

Borough council meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton House. The next meeting is scheduled for October 7.

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