April 4, 2024

This Meeting was recorded for Accuracy

Meeting was opened by Lou McLaughlin at 7 PM.

Present:  Lewis McLaughlin, Solicitor Michael Smith, Keith St.Clair, Gladine McMaster, Dan Short, JR, Sue Bartow

Absent:  none

Public Attendance: Mellissa Miller, Kim Botteicher, Dave Peightel,  Adrien Cameron,  John Kovac,  Bob Stull, Amy Lickenfelt, Justin Mingle, Allen Fisher

Old Business:

Approval of March minutes

 Sue said she had several questions.  Correction needs to be made on the spelling of Adrien Cameron first name.  We have Adrian, should be Adrien.   Next thing, Sue asked Kim on page 4 of 10.  This shelter is for 1 night only on a Sunday to Monday.  Sue asked to clarify the day.  Sue said she was talking about K & K.  Kim said it has never been a shelter.  We just have sometimes someone spends the night.  Sue then said it is not just a Sunday to Monday night thing.  Kim said no, she just used this as an example.  That needs to be changed also then.  You also stated you had one person stay at the church already and you are renting it out for weddings, parties, or whatever people wanted to use it for.  Kim asked if there is a question in that statement you are looking for.  Sue again asked if Kim stated that she already had one person stay overnight at the church.  Kim said yes.  She then said the minutes need to reflect that also.  

Pat asked Kim if she had just 1 person stay at the church or was it K & K.  Kim said we were just winding up at the end of the day and this person called.  She came in about midnight and stayed until 4 am when Kim left to go out of town.  Pat again asked the question was she staying at the church or at K & K.  Kim said she was staying at the church.

Sue also asked Kim the question as to whether they have rented out the church already.  Kim said we posted the church for rent. We had an event there already and a wedding in May is coming Kim said we have had several events there already.  We also have an art gallery coming in May.  The event we just had was one of our members that was allowed to have an event there.  We haven’t gotten paid for any rentals yet. 

Lou asked if any other questions needed to be asked. 

After review and several changes to be made, motion made by Sue to approve March minutes, 2nd by Keith, all in favor motion passed.

Approval of Treasurer Report

 She asked if the treasurer report for parks was changed by $120 on 3-18.  There was a $120 entry that was typed out and wasn’t entered in the correct column.  Pat said she combined several transactions to make room but nothing was changed.

After review, Boone motioned to accept treasurer report, 2nd by Sue.  All in favor motion passed.

Solicitor Report:

Michael presented council with answers to question from prior meeting.

Regarding last month's questions about zoning, Michael called the Center for Local Government Services, the PA Chapter of the American Planning Assoc, and the Westmoreland County Planning Commission to seek guidance as to the issue.  Michael also sent an email to the PA State Assoc of Boroughs.  To date I heard back from John McGrehnor of the PA DCED. He was given my message from the Center for Local Government Service.    He advised me to review the entire Municipalities Planning Code and discuss the requirements for establishing and administering a Zoning Ordinance in accordance with the Municipalities Planning Code.

Sue asked if anyone else got back to Michael on his questions. Michael said only 1 person contacted him back.  Sue then said this is not a complete report then. 

Question 1.  Do we have a current building ordinance that might be applicable to FAVOR's repurposing of the church?

Short answer. Is it possible that Ordinance 84-4 would require FAVOR to obtain a permit for renovation?

This ordinance states that building permits shall be required before any construction or development is undertaken in the Borough.  The Building Permit Officer is responsible for enforcing this.  The ordinance states that an application for the permit is to be made in writing, and the applicant must have obtained all other necessary government permits.

Question 2Could the Borough enact a licensing fee for the operation of a recovery center?

Short answer.   I do not believe so, because the recovery center is not a business and does not conduct transactions. 

My reading of the statute is that such a licensing fee would not hold up if challenged in court.  This is because a recovery center is not a manufacture, art, trade or business.   PA. C.S. § 1202 (201) (i) (A) states that :The specific powers of the borough shall include … (20) To provide for the prohibition, licensing and regulation of business as follows: (i) to prohibit, license, and regulate by ordinance the following (a) the carrying on of any manufacture, art, trade, or business which may be noxious or offense and prejudicial to the public health or safety of the inhabitants,: and (ii) "boroughs may prohibit, license and regulate business unless prohibited by law."

Question 3.Could the borough create a special tax for recovery centers?

 Short Answer: I do not believe so, because the borough an only enact special taxes on businesses in the borough, and they recovery center is a non-profit which technically does not conduct business or engage in transactions. 

I believe such a tax would not hold up if challenged in court.  Similar to the above response, my reading of the Local Tax Enabling Act is that such a special tax can be imposed on a business conducting some sort of transaction in the borough.

53 PA. C.S. § 6924.301.1 states that boroughs "may, in their discretion, by ordinance or resolution, for general revenue purposes, levy assess and collect … such taxes as they shall determine on a persons, transactions, occupations, privileges, subjects and personal property within the limits of the Borough"

Subsection (a.1) (1) clarifies that "A local taxing authority may levy tax on the privilege of doing business in the jurisdiction if (i) the privilege is exercised by conducting transactions.  for all or part of 15 or more calendar days within the calendar year; (ii) the privilege is exercised through a base of operations in the jurisdiction."

The Municipalities Planning Code and Zoning.

A zoning ordinance must be submitted to the Borough Council by a "planning agency." The planning Agency can either be a Planning Commission - comprised mostly of regular citizens, or a Planning Committee comprised of members of the Council.  Either way, the Planning Agency must use the assistance of the "Municipal Engineer" or an engineer employed by the Borough for this purpose.

If the Borough decides to use a Planning Commission, then the members of the Commission must be appointed through ordinance.  A Planning Commission can be 3 to 9 members, most of whom must be "citizen’s members" - that is, they cannot already be elected, appointed or employed by the Borough, 

Whether a Planning Commission or a Planning Committee is chosen to be the Planning Agency, - the Planning Agency must hold at least one public meeting prior to submitting is proposal to the Borough Council.  Once a proposed zoning ordinance is created, the Planning Agency submits it to the Borough Council.

The Borough Council must then submit a copy of the proposed ordinance to the County Planning Dept. at least 45 days before holding a public meeting.  The Borough Council must then give the public notice of the upcoming meeting on the proposed zoning ordinance.  Any zoning ordinance must be passed within 90 days of this public meeting, or another hearing will have to be announced and held.

After the public meeting, but before the zoning ordinance can be passed, the Borough Council must give more notice of the proposed ordinance. Not more than 60 days nor less that 7 days before the passage of the zoning ordinance, notice of it must be given in a local paper of general circulation with reference to the time and place where people can come to review the proposed ordinance and obtain copies of it for the cost of reproduction.  The notice can either include the full text of the proposed ordinance, or a summary prepared by the solicitor. 

Landowners who wish to challenge the validity of the proposed ordinance and submit requests for "curative amendments" which will then require the Borough to hold a public hearing within 60 days.  The Borough can then either agree with the challenge and change the ordinance accordingly (which will require going back and doing all the notices again because it will be a new ordinance) or reject the challenge and be subject to an appeal to the County Court of Common Pleas.

After the zoning ordinance is passed, the Borough must appoint a Zoning Officer who is familiar with municipal zoning to administer the zoning ordinance.  The zoning officer enforces the zoning ordinance

by citing people for violating it.  Citations are brought before the local magistrate. If a magistrate determines a violation has occurred, then the violator can be subject to a fine of up to $500 per violation plus court costs and reasonable attorney fees.  Each day afterward that the violation continues counts as a new violation.  However, before this occurs, the alleged violator has the right to appeal the Zoning Officer's decision to the Zoning Hearing Board.

The Zoning Hearing Board is appointed by resolution of the Borough Council.  Is must consist of 3-5 residents of the Borough, none of whom may already be appointed to a municipal office, be elected to a municipal office, or be employed by the Borough.

The Borough council must appropriate any funds used by the Zoning Hearing Board, or obtain them from grants from the county, state or federal government.  The zoning Hearing Board may employ secretaries, clerks, consultants, and its own legal advisor.  Its legal advisor cannot be the municipal solicitor.

When the Zoning Hearing Board takes appeals from the Zoning Office, or considers requests for variances and exceptions, this must be done at a public hearing.  The hearing must follow certain procedural rules, similar to those followed in court proceedings.  The alleged violator, or an applicant for a variance, will appear and present his or her case.  Other interested parties may also appear.  The Borough is always considered a party and must have a representative present for the hearings.

All hearings before the Zoning Hearing Board must be recorded by a stenographer.  The cost of the stenographer is split between the Board and the applicant.  The board’s decisions are appealable to the County Court of Common Pleas. 

Special Guest:    Bob Stull- on Verizon cell tower

Mr. Stull said that SBA is leasing the tower to Verizon.  It is owned by SBA  and Verizon has been working on tower for a couple months.  There is a delay in getting parts.  It may be July or August before the tower is up and running now.  They have all kinds of inspections and environmental inspections to do.  Mr. Stull said he is not with holding the tower operation for more money as people are saying.  Verizon has put 1/4 million into the tower structure.  Please be patient. If you have a Verizon cell phone it will be much better service when the tower is up and running.  I know right where I live next to the tower, I have to stand on a chair to try to get service.  If someone has a neighbor that is spreading the roamer that we are holding up the tower, we are not.  People are saying we are holding them up because we want more money.  That is not true.  We rented the land for them to put the tower up and that is all.  We were afraid they were going to tear it down.  They have spent over 8 million dollars on that tower.  I don’t think they would tear it down. 

John Kovac wanted to thank Lou for his help during the water crisis.  The water is down to about 2 feet and he is digging out more of the dyke to take care of the water issue. 

2nd thing, there is a dead tree down at the lower park.  He doesn’t care if he cuts it down or not.  You have a shade tree ordinance that says council has to approve anything that has to do with the trees.  He doesn’t know what he has to do to get permission to cut down a dead tree.

I don’t mind doing the work down at the dyke area but if the Borough would like to help with the purchase of piping and back flow preventer to help get the water out at the dyke.  My initial cost depending on the size and how many drains you would like installed down there, you are looking at

Approximately $300 for check valve, 10 inch, looking at $285 for a 10 inch stick of PVC pipe, his guess is 20 to 30 feet of drain because of the dyke wall. If you do 2 drains you are looking at $600 for piping.  Need a valve per line.  Need 2 valves.  When we dug thru the dyke wall it was dry so it is not coming through the dyke.  Next time it rains you might want to put dye in the drain to see if it comes out down there. 

Lou said it is broke from Pam’s place to the dyke.  John said he had heard it will probably be several years before we can apply for another grant to continue down there. 

Pat said we currently have a CDBG grant in the works and also a Federal grant to do the entire town. 

John said the other thing I have done is put together several ordinances because he said after looking into the law the Borough has a right to enact a permit license to operate a business in town. 

Part of the permit is to charge a fee to help cover the cost of ways to help the borough protect the safety and well- being of the town people and administrative fees of the borough. 

John is asking for the Borough to enact a license fee for any needle exchange program, and for any temporary living arrangements or accommodations’ for anyone to stay overnight for going to rehab purposes.  I think these ordinance will help protect the town’s people and keep other from coming in since we have no police dept. for protection.  

Again my samples are taken from other ordinances the town has already set up. 

John passed out cost samples for the drains and back flow valves. 

Sue asked if the drains would connect with the other drains.  John said no they would not.

Lou commented to Kim was that from the last meeting he understood there would be no exchange of needles at any of her locations to which Kim replied “no”, there would not be.” 

Kim asked if anyone else had a question for her concerning the church before she leaves for another meeting.   

Update on Citizens’ Ambulance Request. 

Mellissa, said during the parks meeting this came up that the borough wanted parks to donate to citizens ambulance.  She was not sure how it became the parks issue.  Mellissa said the minutes reflected the parks should pay for it. 

Pat said Sue said to turn it over to the parks to pay.  Sue denied saying this.  Pat said it was in the minutes that Keith commented to give to parks and Sue agreed and said yes give it to parks. 

Mellissa said parks decided that parks would give $250 if council would give $250.

John Kovac suggested to sell a ticket and donate all the proceeds to Citizens.  Mellissa said we do not have a SGOC license and therefore cannot do a ticket.  John said to get with him and he will do a ticket  and all the proceeds will go to the ambulance fund and everyone will be happy.  John said the Legion will get the ticket , parks can sell the ticket.  Mellissa said she is one vote she will have to bring it up at the parks meeting.   John said it will be listed under the legion and parks can sell the ticket and everyone will be a winner. 

Sue said to Mellissa that she did not initially start the situation about citizens.  Sue read the minutes and it said that Keith said  to give it to parks.    The minutes also said that Sue agreed to give it to parks.   

New Business:

Lou read a letter that was received from the sewage authority lawyers( Leventry,  Haschak  & Rodkey LLC  that stated a concern when paving the streets that the manhole covers for the sewage authority is being covered over or sealed so the sewage authority cannot get the covers off.  Lou said here's the moral of the story.  He was on the job site when the paving was done and he could get the manhole covers offs.  He spoke to a sewage authority member and was told this did not apply to us, but to Robinson.  When Lou first saw the letter he was not impressed with it. 

Sue said Cindy and she could not get into the manhole covers in Robinson.  The attorney sent a letter to all three municipalities concerning this.   The letter was pertaining to Robinson. 

Any other business to discuss.

Lou called an executive session on personnel at 7:40 PM

Executive session returned  to the public at 7:50 pm.

Decision was to hire a 2nd borough worker.  Advertise on Facebook, and in the local business and post office.  Pat asked if we are giving to the next meeting for applicants.  Are you putting an age limit on it.  Pat said 18 yrs old to use the zero turn , be 21 to drive the truck and Kubota.  We need someone to cut the grass and clean the drains.   Do we want to give a salary?  Decided to put $13 to $15 per hour depending on experience.  Also the worker must pass a drug and alcohol  test and physical.  Must also have a good driving record.  Also possible up to 35 hours per week. 

Sue suggested to advertise until possibly the 26th.  Then hold interviews. 

Mayor report:

Clark issued 2 code enforcement violations

1. No inspections - Lincoln St

The owner contacted Pat and said they were putting the vehicle in the yard until they get their tax money to fix it.

2. Garbage - Washington St

Clark said he spoke to the homeowner and was told McInchok will only take 2 bags at a time.  She used very small trash bags.  He tried to tell her to get a huge trash bag and put the smaller one in it. 

Pot hole at graveyard hill road in Borough needs filled.

Lou said he and Keith will get cold patch to fill since Paul is laid up.  Keith said if worse comes to worse we can go to Lowes and get several bags of cold patch. 

When Borough cleans streets, Art Sisitki wants to know if Borough could fill in the potholes on Lear Street.   Asked if Dead End sign was put up yet?    Pat said we just got the sign in.  US Municipal sent us the wrong sign and had to reorder.

Art cleaned the drain out on Washington St by Dan Shorts.

Market Street- Dutch’s property, new owners tore up the sidewalk and replaced it with new sidewalk.  Looks good and cleaned up.

Noted, the Basketball and Tennis Courts at lower park were flooded out during this last rain event.

Also asking council to hire a 2nd Boro worker.

Adrien asked if anyone gets a ticket.  Clark said he just warns the people and if need be he will go the magistrate office.

That’s all I have.

Street Commissioner Report:

 Lou said there is no report.  They did not do anything this month. Paul has been laid up.  Gladine and Lou went to the dirt and gravel 2 day course. 

Sue asked if council will take a look at the drain system down at John's before next meeting.  Lou said will look at it before next meeting. 

John asked if there is any permit that needs to be completed.  Bolivar is holding the Memorial parade this year.  John said he will get the application to Joe Short to take care of.

Also john is asking that a motion be made for the council to draw up as many permits that is needed for the businesses to stop what is currently going on with the church.  John said you need to write it so it protects the borough.  Discussion was made by several people on the subject of the church being rented out already.  She does not have the ability to protect the people in town for what she is currently doing. 

John wants a motion to allow the lawyer to investigate and possibly draft a Resolution or Ordinance on a license permit.  Sue motions and Dan 2nds.  Keith wanted to ask an additional question.  Clark said a motion was already on the table.  Sue would need to rescind the motion to continue to discuss the situation.  Clark decided to leave at 8:10 PM.  He said council is wanting to spend more money. 

Sue motions to let the attorney proceed with the paperwork that was stated by John.  Boone 2nd motion, all in favor motion passed. 

Sewage Report

Sue said meeting is next week. 

Parks & Rec

Mellissa said parks is starting on the basketball court on Saturday.  We have tickets for the cow plop to sell .  We currently have 154 bricks sold.  We are putting in another set of steps behind the concession stand. up to McKinley St.  We are leaving the old steps in and just putting a new set in. 

Lou wanted to know when the port-a-johns were going back in.  Pat said if you want one in now council can pay for is. The cost is $100 per month.  Parks will have one in place by the end of May.

Sue asked if the gentleman from FAVOR wanted Parks to go with them for a grant.  Mellissa said they did but it was explained to them that  parks was asked to hold off in applying for another grant for awhile.  FAVOR wanted to do a summer  program like we used to do.  We stopped because the kids were complaining all the time about having to be here in the morning and parents wanted us to be their baby sitters.  The kids wanted to wine and wine that they did not want to be here. 

If our name is on the application with FAVOR they would not get their grant. 

Sue said she has one more thing.  She wanted to know if we saw the advertisement from DCED on grants for parks.  Mellissa said we talked to Leslie Rossi office and asked them to come here to discuss an update.  The grant from DCED are very hard to apply for. 

Motion to adjourn made by Sue 2nd by Keith  at 8:25 PM.  All in favor, meeting adjourned. 


Patricia Betts