The installation of a pipeline to bring natural gas to Tunkhannock Borough residents remains up in the air.
Tunkhannock Borough Council reported on Thursday that UGI had not yet applied for a permit to install the line along Harrison Street and other adjacent streets in the borough.
Council vice-president Ben Barziloski, filling in for President Robert Robinson who was absent, expressed concerns, saying it is now very late in the paving season. If the project is undertaken during the winter, there would be no way to repave Harrison or other streets until the spring.
Mayor Norm Ball later explained that asphalt companies typically stop production from November to June, due to the cold weather.
Council member Marshall Davis also expressed concerns about the pipeline being laid under the bridge that spans Swale Brook at McCord and Harrison Street.
“We had a lot of problems when we installed a sewer line there,” he noted.
Davis said UGI has not indicated how it will deal with the situation.
During the discussion, council members also noted that UGI had initially promised the project would be complete before school started.
Now, the borough will have to contend not only with disruption of local traffic patterns, but of the school buses as well.
Another concern raised during the discussion was that not all property owners where the pipeline is scheduled to be laid have agreed to grant permission to UGI to do so.
Council member Lisa Tesluk reported that UGI will hold an open house on Oct. 16 at the 9-11 Center.
The event is a ‘symbolic ground breaking ceremony’ which will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The event marks the introduction of the ‘Get Gas Program,” being sponsored by UGI. No construction will occur at the time.
Don Brominski, Director of Business Development UGI Utilities, said Tuesday that UGI initially put in an application for a permit earlier.
However, the borough’s engineer had some questions concerning the proposal. UGI’s engineer has been working on answering those questions, he said.
Brominski said UGI anticipates re-submitting the application by the end of the week.
Asked about council’s concerns regarding being unable to restore the streets in the winter, Brominski said that they will be working on the matter. They hope to do a permanent restoration before winter sets in, he said, but will do a temporary restoration if necessary, followed by a permanent restoration in the spring.
During the Planning and Zoning report, council voted unanimously to send a proposal to reexamine zoning in the borough to the Borough Planning Committee.
Last month, Barziloski expressed concern about the number of attorneys and insurance companies setting up offices along Tioga Street in the downtown area. Because such business don’t generate a great deal of foot traffic, he recommended that the borough look into the possibility of changing the zoning to encourage more traditional businesses in the downtown area.
Before the vote was taken, Ned Slocum, a member of the Borough Planning Commission, urged council to move cautiously before undertaking action on the matter.
He pointed out that the borough recently had to go to court when an attempt was made to turn a residential property into an attorney’s office. The borough won the case, but had to spend thousands of dollars to do so.
According to the proposal, attorneys and insurance companies would be allowed to establish their businesses in areas zoned residential around the courthouse. This would be contrary to what the borough fought against in the court case, Slocum explained.
Slocum also emphasized that although he cannot speak for other members of the Planning Commission, he would oppose such an action.
During public comments, council was asked about the situation involving the processing of recycled materials in the borough - particularly brush and clippings.
The borough presently takes such items to Tunkhannock Township for processing.
However, the township announced at its meeting on Oct. 1 that it is getting out of the mulch business due to cost factors.
Borough Manager Dawn Welch reported that the matter will be discussed with the Department of Public Works. A decision on what will be done with the brush and clippings will be determined in the future.
On Davis’ recommendation, council voted to appoint Richard Stevens as a part-time police officer for the borough, effective immediately. Police Chief Keith Carpenter said that Stevens will immediately be put on traffic patrol.
Several council members reported receiving complaints from residents concerning vehicles that are over parking in the downtown area. Davis suggested that Carpenter inform his officers that they should be more stringent in enforcing the parking laws.
It was also announced that council will advertise with intent to adopt the 2018 Budget/2019 Tax Levy Ordinance on Nov. 1. The budget is scheduled to be approved with no increase in local taxes.
In other business, council reported:
*Halloween will be celebrated in the borough on Oct. 31. Trick-or-Treat is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., and the local Halloween Parade will start at 7 p.m.
*The borough received $1,000 from the Tunkhannock Community Ambulance Association for payment in lieu of taxes.
*The borough paid $44,730 to EMC Insurance. This is slightly less than last year’s payment.
*The borough has spent $3,121 for salt and cold patches.
*The borough will advertise that it intends to reduce from five to three inches the amount of snowfall required for street parking restrictions.
*The borough has received $59,007 in state liquid fuels funds.