Council Reverses Driveway Decision
McConnellsburg Borough Council members reversed a decision made last month regarding a property located on Lincoln Way East. Council members decided then to refuse to sign a letter for the property owner, local businessman Ron Richards. Council met with Richards during its regular meeting last Wednesday evening and after hearing from him, approved his project, and Councilman Rick Buterbaugh also publicly apologized to him.
The letter, requested by Richards’ engineer at council’s February meeting, would have stated that council had approved the project at the corner of Lincoln Way East (LWE) and Cito Road. The project includes the renovation of a home into a real estate office, the removal of curbing and the installation of a driveway and small parking lot just west of Johnnie’s Diner. The letter was requested by PennDOT as a prerequisite for granting a permit for the driveway.
Last month when council was asked to provide the letter, council members declined, saying that Richards had not gotten a building permit and had not requested permission from council regarding the driveway and parking lot. Congestion in that area of town was also discussed, with council members agreeing that it was already difficult to enter and exit the many businesses located there. Council agreed to submit the plans for the project to its engineer for comments and tabled any further decision.
Richards appeared last Wednesday before council and read a written statement that essentially said that he had gotten prior approval for the project from borough secretary Jack Fields. Richards, in his prepared statement, said that Fields told him, “Ronnie, go ahead. I know that whatever you do, it will be done right.” Apparently this was information that council did not have when making its decision in February.
Richards went on to say that after getting Fields’ approval, he went to “the highway shed” and was given a name to call at Penn- DOT to get approval for a permit he needed since the access to the driveway is off a state road (Route 30). “When the letter was presented for your approval (in February), I had already spent over $2,500 in engineering fees. With this being said, you can understand why I was upset by being made to look like some sort of criminal, when in fact I had taken all the necessary steps to do things the legal way.”
He went on to further explain the project, saying, “I sold my accounting business to H&R Block and it will remain at the current location at 416 LWE. There will only be myself, one full-time agent and a part-time assistant working there. We would feel very blessed if we had one or two clients a day visit us.” Richards also explained that employees would park in back of the business and enter the parking lot off Cito Road. He said the driveway off 701 LWE will be an entrance only. He said he is replacing the curbing with new curbing that will be separated from the sidewalk by about two feet, enabling him to landscape with stone or mulch.
When asked by the “News” what comments the borough’s engineer made about the project, Fields said the plans had not been submitted to the engineer.
Council members also discussed a meeting held by the local fire company to respond to questions about workers’ compensation costs for paid employees. These costs are paid for by the borough, Todd, Ayr and Licking Creek townships. Last year at budget time, council members agreed to only pay these costs for 2012 and not for any upcoming years. The borough’s share of the cost is about $4,000 annually. Councilman Buterbaugh has been vocal about his opposition to the payment, saying he believes that if the paid employees are members of the fire company and if they are responding to an emergency situation, then they would be covered by the fire company’s regular workers’ compensation policy for the volunteers. Mayor Mike Chilcote, who is also a member of the company, said he does not believe that it works that way. Councilman David Washabaugh, who attended the meeting held, said after hearing from everyone there, he believes maybe council should consider paying its share of this for 2013. More meetings are scheduled to be held, and council made no decision pending more information.
Also, during new business, council agreed to set spring cleanup (bulky item) day for Friday, April 20. Items should be placed curbside on Thursday night. Fields said both Todd and Ayr townships will likely hold their cleanup days on Saturday, April 21.
Council gave permission to the U.S. Postal Service to put up 15- minute parking signs in front of the post office. The post office has agreed to buy the signs and erect them. Council stipulated the signs could only be erected within the post office property lines, resulting most likely in one to two parking spaces with the designation.
Council members also suggested that Fields place an ad in the newspaper reminding borough residents that land-use permits are required in the borough prior to making most property renovations. Fields was also authorized to buy 10 signposts and to hire a street sweeper to clean the streets in the spring.
Borough Council members granted permission to the local fire company to hold a parade on June 9 in conjunction with the Strawberry Festival. Permission was also granted for Fulton County Medical Center’s Reaching Wellness Program’s Strawberry Stampede 5K Run/Walk through the borough on June 9. The run/walk will begin in the town square at 8:30 a.m. Council agreed to donate $200 to FCMC Foundation in support of the event.
Council also agreed to donate $25 to become a sponsor of the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism annual golf tournament.
A demolition permit was granted to the fire company to demolish a home on South Third Street that is owned by the fire company.
Buterbaugh also informed council that Todd Township has announced it will withdraw from the Parks and Recreation Commission effective 12/31/12. Both Ayr and Dublin withdrew previously, leaving only the borough, Thompson, Taylor and the three school districts remaining in the consortium.
During old business, council discussed again the possibility of putting a heat pump in the Fulton House. Fields reported that he had gotten no estimates and council, expressing concern over the possible cost and the fact that heat from another source would still be needed on very cold days, decided to table the discussion indefinitely.
Council was informed that CDBG funds will not be available this year for sidewalk construction as the funds will be used to support an area wastewater treatment facility.
At approximately 8:45 p.m., council, upon the request of Buterbaugh, agreed to meet in executive session to discuss personnel matters. The regular meeting was reconvened at 9 p.m. and was adjourned.
During regular business, council voted to pay bills in the amount of $19,711.94. Receipts were for $27,010.11, and checks were written for $13,895.33.
Council members present were Travis Bard, Pat Frazier, Pat Booth, Mack Shaffer, Rick Buterbaugh, David Washabaugh and Mayor Mike Chilcote.
Borough Council meets the first Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Fulton House. The next meeting is scheduled for April 4, 2012.