By Douglas W. Wesner
Robeson Township residents have one more "watchdog" for the environment, as of May12.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to adopt Ordinance 05-04 creating an Environmental Advisory Council. An additional resolution was passed which outlines the operating procedures of the five member panel.
Supervisor Timothy Bitler was absent from the proceedings.
The EAC can only recommend action to the supervisors, much like the role of the present planning commission. The board is charged with appointing EAC members, as well.
Township resident and chairman of the recently formed Berks County EAC Craig Hafer, was the "driving force" behind the creation of the Robeson's council.
For the past several months, he has worked closely with the board and Solicitor Christopher Hartman to hammer out the procedures and guidelines.
Without legislative power, the fledgling EAC is permitted help to form the township policy in dealing with developers, zoning regulations, ordinances, environmental protection policies and identifying bio-hazards and other dangerous practices, said Hafer earlier.
"The supervisors may begin interviewing prospective candidates soon," said Hartman. Each member serves a five-year term, but the initial appointments must be staggered so only one-third of the members will be reappointed or changed in any given year, he added.
At least one EAC member must also serve on the planning commission, also, and everyone is subject to the state public service ethics code, Hartman said also.
In other business, the board conducted a brief, mandated public hearing to discuss the revision of the Expansion of Non-Conforming Structures Ordinance 05-03.
Hartman said the word "non-conforming" means, prior to present code standards several township structures were built closer to the road than is now permitted. These buildings could stay under a "grand -father clause," but were not allowed to build an addition without asking for a variance from the zoning hearing board.
He said the new law allows the owner to expand the structure without a waiver, as long as, it is no closer to the road or public highway.
Also, the supervisors authorized Police Chief Mark Phillips to continue negotiations with New Morgan Borough for police protection, particularly around the dam perimeter.
"Our presence would entail about three drive-by patrols a day," he said. "Nothing is set in stone, however, since Caernarvon and Brecknock townships are also bidding for their services."
Board Chairman Roger K Feeg said he would be in favor of the plan because of a possible increase in revenue, so long as, the Robeson residents are not left without adequate coverage, as a result.
A closed executive session was held to discuss potential litigation and personnel matters. No other details were available.