Municipal Report: West Nantmeal intends to follow up on noise from guns

At last week’s West Nantmeal Township meeting, Chairman Gary Elston said he and Zoning Officer Frank Newhams have been doing testing to gauge the sound decibels from firearms at different places using different kinds of guns. They have also been testing sound from trap shooting.

Resident Tom Marks, who lives next to Nick Fantanarosa, asked if a person can take their own noise reading once the noise ordinance is revised.

It would pit neighbor against neighbor, said Elston. Local statutes, rules, differences in judgement, location of the testing and qualifications of the person doing the testing are all factors that could affect citizens’ readings.

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Township Attorney Kristin Camp said there are concerns about the equipment used to gauge the noise level and the qualifications of the person doing the testing. It would “open a can of worms.”

Mr. Fantanarosa has kept his word, said Marks. Things have been quiet.

Newhams is doing the testing, said Elston. The township received the petition and is working to amend the noise ordinance.

The township is trying to determine the sound level from guns and to understand it, said Camp. Officials don’t think it would change the noise ordinance too much. They are doing research, but it is difficult to equate shooting to a decibel level that would be in the noise ordinance.

Marks asked what the best way to keep up with the township’s work on the noise ordinance would be.

Camp said there would be at least two public meetings before anything could be adopted.

The township is responsible for safety, said Marks. Anyone can put up a bale of straw and use different guns. It is not only noise that is the issue, but safety. There are a lot of homes in close proximity, he pointed out, so there should be guidelines for backstops.

The shooter has the responsibility to shoot safely and be responsible for his actions, said Elston. Training should be required but the township can’t require it, he added, saying the National Rifle Association (NRA) must have some guidelines.

In response to a resident’s complaint that a neighbor is burning construction material and treated lumber, Newhams said it falls under use of a property for a purpose not permitted in the zoning ordinance. He will follow up on the complaint.

West Nantmeal officials are keeping close watch on the trail of Dennis Alenovitz of Pumpkin Hill Road. There had been allegations of weapons and drug paraphernalia in his possession. A trial had been planned but the date has been continued. Some charges had been dropped. Camp said a sheriff’s sale had been planned for Nov. 21.

Frank Gillen, of New Road, has proposed clearing his land for agricultural use, said Township Engineer April Barkasi. Neighbors are concerned. The property is wooded with a lot of thick brush. Gillen has been working with the Chester County Conservation District.

Newhams said he is not sure what Todd Everts wants to do about the septic systems on the Jennelle property at Loag’s Corner. He has not applied for variances or relief from some issues of concern, said Elston.

The Honey Brook Library will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary of service to the local community, said Mike Green, member of the Board of Directors. Longtime Director Paula McGinness will be retiring at the end of 2013.

“We are looking for a new director,” Green said. “The new director has to have a bachelor’s degree and be working on a master’s degree.”

The library staff and volunteers are grateful for the donations, he added. Over 3,000 people used the programs provided by the library in 2012. There are five people on the payroll of the library and there are 10 to 15 volunteers. The library receives about $156,000 from the state and Chester County, but in 2013 there has been a loss of about $30,000 of income.

An amended Subdivision and Land Development ordinance and an updated and amended stormwater ordinance were also approved at the meeting. Elston said the Chester County Water Resources Authority has put together a model ordinance for all municipalities to use as a guideline as they create their own ordinance.

The new ordinance covers everything and superseded other similar ordinances, said Elston. It is an unfunded mandate handed down from the state. It is a nightmare for anyone who does anything with their property, he said. He hopes it will be changed to provide relief so people can do more of what they want with their property.

Supervisor Nelson Beam said the fact that nothing has been done for so long may be the reason the state did this.

About 130 attended the Octoberfest at Wyebrook Farm, said Secretary/Treasurer Susan Ward. The affair was held to raise funds to repair the historic stone walls in the area of the Iron plantation, which is now St. Mary of Providence. The Historical Society raised about $5,000 before expenses.

Historical Architect Bob Wise is trying to get the walls designated as a historic structure. It has never been done before. Although some residents had removed walls on their properties, the walls actually enhance property values.

“Money has to be raised so matching grants can be obtained,” said Ward. “It has been a lot of work and a lot of fun.”