East Penn Press

Monday, August 26, 2019

ALBURTIS BOROUGH COUNCIL

Wednesday, June 5, 2019 by JAKE MELUSKEY Special to The Press in Local News

Alburtis natives ready to fly the coop

The May 29 Alburtis Borough Council meeting began with Alburtis Mayor Kathleen Palmer giving the floor to Alburtis Chief of Police Robert Palmer. The police chief asked council for permission to form accident reconstruction teams as other police forces have in the surrounding areas. There will be no extra costs to assemble these teams and Chief Palmer stated, “This is a win-win for everyone all-around.”

Next, Chief Palmer asked council for a motion to hire Muhlenberg Township police officer Alex Smith as a part-time officer for the borough’s police force. Continuing, he explained he is in dire need of another employee as overtime has been increasing rapidly. The chief said the police department is actively looking for more officers and are welcome to new applicants.

The motion was accepted and approved by council with no contest.

Public comment was made by Alburtis-native Victor Lauer, accompanied by his wife Linda. The couple raised concern over overcrowded and excessive animal pens, specifically chicken coops, in high-density residential areas. The couple had been researching hypothetical zoning ordinances and codes and presented various solutions to the council.

Council Solicitor David Knerr explained to the couple council would not be able to realistically handle zoning ordinances of this nature, and more so, could not help the couple in that any changes would still allow the offenders to be grandfathered in. So, the chicken coops would be able to remain where they are even with the new zoning ordinance. Plus, it was brought up the proposed ordinance was simply found online and was only a model.

Linda Lauer approached and spoke of the foul smell coming from the coops. The animals are kept directly on the property line, right next to their backyard. She won’t even step onto her back porch because of the stench. She stated something needed to be done about the neglected chicken coops as various bacteria and other sanitation issues can develop.

Council President Ronald DeIaco suggested the borough send a code enforcement officer or the police department to inspect the sanitation issues. A violation notice will be sent to the property as a warning for the unkempt chicken coops, and if no change is made, the owners will eventually be issued a fine of up to $100 a day. Mayor Palmer announced she would uphold the agreement and take action to get the process started.

Up next, the council heard from two employees of Prologis, Inc., a multinational logistics real estate investment trust. The company owns an industrial building that houses two transport companies which share space on the property.

The two companies that share the space have been complaining about overcrowded space for their trailers. The investment company is proposing to build a separate parking lot, so the companies have more space to park the trailers nearby and employees and visitors can park in this new lot. Councilman Hector Vasquez opposed the plan because in his experience driving by the lots for two weeks prior, he saw no trailers being parked that were intrusive or blocking space. So he questioned the proposal entirely.

Bill Bumber, vice president, investment officer for Prologis, explained Prologis had been in touch with the two companies and told them they needed to move their trailers, which would be the trailers Vasquez was looking for as he drove by. The two companies have been complaining about the need for more space because of this and that is why they need to expand the lot.

Prologis’ proposal was accepted in a 6-1 vote.

In other news, parking stalls on Flint Hill Road were to be redone, as parking has remained overcrowded. Mail carriers have stated they will not be able to deliver the mail with the way the cars are parked on the street, which has prompted council to act. A proposal for increased parking stalls on West Second Street was made as well.

It was agreed the lines will be redone to create more parking. It was also brought up the curb corners need to be painted yellow and a project will soon be put together to address this problem.

A potential MS4 violation was brought up near the end of the meeting; the resident was in attendance to explain the issues and why it was occurring. A large amount of run-off was coming from his property onto the road. He stated he was working to build a path for the excess, but the nonstop rain has made this hard to deal with.

He continued by claiming his neighbors were being unruly to him about the issue. He and his family were harassed by the neighbor. Police have been called unnecessarily and he just wants to live his life in peace. In turn, he asked the council for help ending the harassment.

Council accepted the man’s plea and were assured the situation was going to be resolved.