The Berks-Mont News (

Municipal Report: Robeson Township focuses on property maintenance

By Tory Lingg, For 21st Century Media

Monday, September 30, 2013

After listening to several complaints about property maintenance and conditions, Robeson Supervisors agreed with Township Solicitor Chris Hartman that he should put something in writing for use as a future standard.
Officials said it would be good to consider the size of the lot, if it is in a development of various sized lots, and what is considered the yard area. The differences between weeds, grass, wild flowers and shrubs will be taken into consideration. Bamboo must be trimmed back from the right of way because it causes a lot of problems. Farms and forested areas will be excluded.
There is concern about cleaning up properties where grass has been growing for two or three years.
“We don’t know which way to go ,” Vice Chairman Doug Love said. “There is no ordinance. We can’t have a one size fits all in this township.
“We can’t have a situation of picking on neighbors,” he added. “It is different if a house is abandoned and no one is living there.”
Ron Nye and other neighbors have been complaining about a property along Seyfret Drive. No one has been living there since a fire caused significant damage in 2011. Two or three unlicensed vehicles have been left at the location since the fire.
An ordinance regarding abandoned vehicles was adopted at the Aug. 20 meeting. A letter will be sent to the property owner and the Zoning Officer will follow the issue closely. The board of supervisors is working on an ordinance to cover properties like it.
Township Engineer Gary Kraft will apply for a permit to fix a pipe under Plow Road. It may take several months to a year or more to get a permit from PennDOT, said Township Manager Tom Keim.
A lot of older developments have places where there are cracked pipes. Many have to be replaced in the next several years, said Supervisor Robert Deeds. Plastic pipes were not available at the time. It is often cheaper to reline a pipe than digging it out.
Love asked that it be put on the work schedule and made a priority.
Chief of Police Mark Phillips asked that Matt Smith replace Sgt. Dennis Castle in the Berks County Emergency Management system. Officer Smith is attending training sessions for the requirements of the position.
The police department is looking into recent burglaries in the southern section of Robeson Township. They are looking at a person from Montgomery County.
“Crime has no boundaries,” Love said.
Members of the Road Crew will take training on how to identify instances where improper grading may cause flooding from storm water, which is a concern to the township, said Keim.
A letter was received from resident Sellers Smith thanking them for promptly removing snow and broken trees from the roads in the winter.
Township personnel will be trained on proper response in a state of emergency due to an assassin or sniper in the area. The fire police will also attend an instruction seminar where they will receive training on the extent of their responsibility.
Plans under review are Park View Estates, Burkhart, Gibraltar Estates, Parkside, Cedar Hill Estates, Feinsot, Beaver Run, Gordon, Darnall and Quaker Ridge.
Kraft said an amended storm water ordinance should be adopted. The larger the impervious surface, the more costly and complicated it becomes. Some issues concerning storm water management depend on the size of the lot.
An ordinance has been completed which will prohibit the township from issuing any permits if there are existing unpaid sewer bills. The non-payment of fees for permits, sewer charges and other charges due to the township will be dealt with in the ordinance. If a payment plan is agreed upon between the property owner and the township, the issue will not be pressed. Supervisor Chris Smith said there is a similar state law. Love said the board will read the proposed ordinance before the October meeting.
The sewer Authority wants their money because it would help avoid an increase in sewage fees, said Hartman. Non-payment of bills is detrimental to the quality of life in the township and at the same time it affects the necessity of providing services.
Keim said all meeting dates for 2014 will be published soon.
An exercise will be held on the second weekend in October where local fire companies will determine the availability of an adequate supply of water for fighting fires in rural areas, said Supervisor Galen Brown.