2011-10-13 / Front Page

Annual Township Convention Held

By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Township supervisors, secretaries, auditors and tax collectors gathered at the Needmore Firehall Monday to hear firsthand how topics such as erosion and sediment control, trash removal and bed bugs pertain to township government.

As part of the 89th annual convention of the Fulton County Association of Township Officials, state officials and county employees took center stage. Among those addressing township officials was Mary K. Seville, of the county planning office, who reported each township must adopt a solid waste ordinance as it relates to trash removal and recycling. Samples of suggested ordinances were sent to the municipalities in August for review and consideration.

Seville noted the ordinances were penned to help curb illegal dumping and to ensure that each resident in Fulton County has a garbage service provider. Current ordinances have been in effect since the late 1990s and are no longer valid or applicable under today’s circumstances.

Seleen Shives of the Fulton County Conservation District touched on the topic of earthmoving activities ranging from plowing and tilling to grading.

Shives reminded those on hand that regulations dictate that any earth-moving project must follow best management practices. In addition, requirements also stipulate if a project disturbs more than 5,000 square feet of earth, a written plan must be in place prior to earth moving occurring. Furthermore, a written plan may be required if the project is located within a high or exceptional value watershed.

Shives pointed out a NPDES permit, which requires review and approval from the Conservation District and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), is required if one acre or more of earth is being disturbed. She went on to urge the townships to try and keep their projects under one acre due to the lengthy application approval process.

Under questioning by Thompson Township Supervisor Bob Swadley, Shives reviewed a new requirement by DEP that stipulates conservation districts must visit all farms located within their region by 2016. Regulations define a farm as any property that has any number of animals producing manure, which would therefore require the property owner to possess a manure management plan.

The new requirement came into effect in November 2010, according to Shives, and is in conjunction with watershed implementation plans and how they pertain to the Chesapeake Bay.

Shives said she’s using the farm visits as an opportunity to meet with people her office typically does not work with. She concluded the district will not be inspecting the farming operations and will not be passing possible problems or deficiencies on to DEP.

The topic of weather emergencies was broached by county EMA/911 Director Ruth Strait, who has been on the job for more than four months since her appointment to the vacant position. During that time frame, Strait said she has dealt with a variety of weather-related emergencies ranging from severe thunderstorms and tornadoes to hail, flooding and earthquakes.

Initial contact between Strait and the townships during these situations is for the purpose of collecting damage assessment information. As a result, Strait noted it is instrumental that townships appoint a municipal coordinator to help aid in the collection of the information, which is eventually turned over to PEMA.

Clem Malot, of Commonwealth Code Inspection Service (CCIS), announced a total of 108 building permits have been issued to date this year. The permits have typically dealt with small residential projects, such as new decks, and have not included the construction of many new homes.

Malot also discussed sending CCIS staff across the state in recent months to help in the evaluation of structures damaged by flooding. In reference to the earthquake that briefly shook the area, only one structure was damaged in the nine-county area. A Fayetteville home, which had been condemned the week prior, was further damaged.

Malot further related that even though none of the calls have originated from Fulton County, his office has been overwhelmed by complaints of bed bugs. Most complaints have originated from congregate housing. Malot referred to bed bugs as an epidemic that will not be going away anytime soon.

Josh Vecchio, a representative of Capital Tax Collection Bureau, spoke to the crowd on the consolidation of earned income tax (EIT) collectors through Act 32. The Fulton County Tax Collection Committee has selected Capital Tax Collection Bureau to collect EIT throughout the county beginning in 2012. The consolidation, Vecchio added, reduced the number of EIT collectors from 560 to 12 collectors statewide.

Others taking the podium on Monday at the annual convention were Fulton County commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer, Craig Cutchall, David Hoover II; commissioner candidates Rodney Mc- Cray and Irvin Dasher; state Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr.; a representative from the office of Rep. Dick Hess; and James Wheeler, PSATS director of environmental affairs.

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