Municipal Report: Union Township to begin road repairs

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A loan of $800,000 will be taken out to help pay for replacement of several collapsed or deteriorating pipes which have been carrying water underneath five roads in Union Township. Permits have been obtained from the Army Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Berks County Conservation District, said Union Township Engineer Tom Unger. Work will start in the spring of 2013 to replace pipes under Crusher, Centre, Halman, Sycamore and Harmonyville Roads. Centre Road has been closed for over a year. In the meantime engineering work take place, and bid packages will be sent out.

Supervisor Nelson Ott pointed out that Union Township has not been “dragging its feet” on the issue, but was set back due to a delay in obtaining the permits.

Township Manager Carol Lewis said that the DEP is two years behind in paper work for reviewing and approving permits, with over 500 applications on file.

The Planning Commission has recommended some changes in the plans for Liberty Bell Motor Sports Park, said planning coordinator Rob Armbruster. Items discussed were the definition of special events, the interpretation of the sound ordinance, emergency services, and waste water management.

The Liberty Bell Motor Sports Complex will be built on 600 acres, spanning both sides of Route 724 in the area of Red Corner, Williams, and Shed Roads. Some of the land will remain in agriculture. The campground will be located on the north side of Route 724. Facilities on one side of Route 724 will be served by public sewers and buildings, and on the other side there will be on-site sewers. At present the public sewer only extends about 500 feet beyond the Union Township Municipal Building.

There is concern to the township if something goes awry with the wastewater management, said township attorney Fred Hatt.

“They want to minimize the escrow. If anything happens we may have to shut it down. They may feel that the escrow funds will not be returned,” he stated.

Unger suggested that the language of the permitting state that inspections should take place one or two times a year. The system has to be checked when it is installed.

“These sewer permits are the last things we need,” said Dave Kleckner, Coordinator of Waste Water Management at the site. “We will bring all of our plans and lay them on the table at the December meeting.”

Township officials are considering a means of raising some funds through a sort of amusement tax or levy on entities such as the Motor Sports Park. Concerns are how to enact the tax and enforce the decree. Supervisor John Salaneck had pointed to a similar rule in East Vincent Township as an example.

A meeting will be held with representatives from E.M.I., Vistas at Riverside, Greg Bosia (a traffic engineer from PennDOT), and Union Township officials about traffic issues concerning Route 724. Vistas at Riverside is planned east of Red Corner Road.

“All of the named roads in the township have been dedicated as township roads,” said Chairman Don Basile. “We can refer to parts of the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance to resolve the concern about the dedication of roads. Let (John) Salaneck review the existing document about what roads we are responsible for. If he is not satisfied we will go over it again.”

Basile said it would be beneficial if the township looked ahead to determine a long range budget planning over a period of 10 years.

“At the budget meeting where we discussed a 1.5 mil tax increase, there were no public comments,” he said.

“It would have been better to raise the taxes .5 mil a year,” said Ott.

He stated that funds are needed to replace worn out equipment and repair the broken pipes under the roads.

“The list goes on…” he added.

Approval was granted to advertising the budget for 2013 with a 1.5 mil tax increase. The budget for 2013 is available for inspection.

Since Salaneck is no longer Road Master, Unger will be responsible for driveway permits.

The owner of the Union Greene development will be asked to attend the December meeting, said Basile. Salaneck said he would like to meet with them. Ott said he was skeptical and that the project “may go nowhere.”

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