Caernarvon Township, Berks Board reviews draft ordinance addressing vacant properties

The Caernarvon Township, Berks Board of Supervisors continued discussions about safety concerns regarding vacant properties during Tuesday’s meeting, July 8.

Following up from last month’s workshop meeting discussion, Chairman Allen Styer asked if the entire board received the rough draft of the ordinance written for vacant property maintenance and safety.

“There’s a lot of, I think, redundancy as far as things that are already covered in other codes; cut your grass, take care of your weeds,” Supervisor Scott Moyer said about the five-page preliminary document.

Advertisement

He continued with his concerns that the ordinance strays away from safety issues of un-kept vacant properties and deals too much with regular lawn maintenance of all properties.

Trying to keep up with the discussion, community member Lenny Smith asked for clarification on what specifically within the document Moyer has an issue. Moyer brought up lines from the rough draft, like “properties under foreclosure whether mortgage holder lives there or not,” to show that the document is too generalized for all properties when the pretext for the rough draft was the safety concerns raised about a vacant property on the 3200 block of Main Street.

“We cannot be diligent enough to be careful that we are not targeting one property,” Township Secretary and Administrator Randall Miller responded to Moyer’s statement.

He goes on to say that if one property is targeted, the ordinance adopted will not be able to stand in court for future endeavors.

Styer did jump in remind the board that this is only a rough draft and that changes can still be made. The board agreed to review the document individually and bring their thoughts and concerns to the workshop meeting on July 22.

Continuing with safety concerns, Moyer also brought up the lack of warning for the construction on Elverson Road.

“There was no warning whatsoever. You just drove up one end and BAM you’re in the hole,” Moyer said.

Miller did say that the trenches are now back filled and that the company doing the construction did not put a cold patch over the area.

Supervisor Paul Whiteman then said that he called Maintenance Foreman Keith McGowan Tuesday morning, July 8, to place a cold patch over the area and move the signs provided farther down the road to give motorists more warning.

The construction was originally thought to take about two days, however, the galvanized pipes were dug up and replaced with catch basins and plastic piping before the paving could take place. This pushed back the contract for the paving project, elongating everything by two weeks. The pipe replacement is expected to be finished the week of July 21, and the paving will begin the week after.

Falling away from the topic of safety, Miller brought the board’s attention to a special request for a zoning meeting. The owners of a commercial property on the 3400 block of Main Street asked the board to submit a letter of opinion to the zoning board for their request to change their apartments to town homes.

Supervisor Jennifer Tennant raised questions about the height of the town homes against the already established building in the property’s surrounding area, and how that would affect the property values.

Styer said that if the request is granted, town home areas typically keep their landscaping neater than apartment areas, and asked which the board would rather have.

Moyer asked then if any of the board members received concerns about the possible town homes.

Allen answered that Tennant was the one who brought up the concerns of the community, and Moyer said that she was referring to comments made by community members on social networking platforms about “mega towers” that would be out of character. Since sketches of the building plans were not submitted with the application of special request, the board of supervisors was not able to decide on a position for the letter of opinion.

They will continue the discussion of the town homes at the workshop meeting on July 22. The zoning meeting that will decide if the special request is granted will be held on Aug. 6.

In other news, the public pavilion will have a few electrical changes in the upcoming weeks. The board agreed that the 15amp circuit should be upgraded to a 20amp circuit in order not to trick the system during pavilion rentals.

Supervisor Paul Whiteman said that the new logo was placed on Township Truck #3 on July 7, and that the radio was installed Tuesday morning, July 8. The sprayer for the truck has been received and McGowan is looking at products to accommodate.

Whiteman also received a notice that Swamp Road will be shut down July 21 through 25 in order to widen it to three lanes.

Lastly, the board has granted a production group shooting a film at the high school access to use a few officers and police cars as background in its film “Natural Selection.”

Styer raised concerns about the township police being misrepresented in the movie. Conditions are being made to blur out the township’s logo on the vehicles.

Correction: This article previously contained several errors. Township Secretary and Administrator Randall Miller was incorrectly identified as a supervisor. Maintenance Foreman Keith McGowan was incorrectly identified as Twin Valley Fire Chief Keith Romig. And Township Truck #3 was incorrectly listed as a Twin Valley Fire Department truck. The story has been updated to reflect the correct information. The editor apologizes for the mistakes.