Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Of Fire Chiefs, Bodegas and Shade Tree Commissions

There are about five things worth noting about Monday night's borough council meeting.

Three of them are votes, one is a surprise and the other not much of a surprise.

The last first: a presentation was given on the final costs of the borough's new $4 million public works garage. Or, no surprise, should I say the borough's new $4.4 million public works garage.

That 7.7 percent cost overrun on the project was due almost entirely to $270,000 in costs to remove unstable soils and replace them with stable soils and $55,000 in "enhancements" borough council was told Monday night.

More on that in The Mercury when I get my hands on the final numbers, which Borough Manager Mark Flanders has promised to provide.

Now for the votes (yes, we're saving the surprise for the end):

One vote, on which Councilman Dennis Arms offered the only dissent, will re-vamp the regulations governing convenience stores, limiting them to downtown and gateway districts and requiring 1,200 feet between them so as not to create a concentration of them.

However, Mayor Sharon Thomas's suggestion that hours be limited as well was not included.

The second vote was to revamp the Human Relations Commission, expanding membership in an attempt to revitalize it.

The third vote re-writes the fire ordinance, gives broader powers to the fire chief and requires that the new chief live within five miles of the borough line within a year of taking the job.

In case you were wondering, the current chief, Richard Lengel, intends on retiring by the end of the year.

And again, Councilman Dennis Arms offered the only dissent.

Council Vice President Sheryl Miller praised Thomas's suggestions that an incentive be offered to fire chief candidates that mirrors the $10,000 forgivable loan the school board wants to offer teachers and administrators who live in town.

And now, for your surprise. You've been patient, so you've earned it.

Six years after disbanding Pottstown's shade tree commission, Miller suggested council visit the idea of putting it back together.

She pointed out that there is "no funding to take care of the problem," by which she meant problem street trees, or dying or dead street trees.

Miller noted that since the commission was disbanded by council "homeowners are fully responsible for taking down the trees and, depending on the size of the tree, it can be thousands of dollars."

Arms said he liked the idea of revitalizing the shade tree commission  "but it should be tree removal commission. I have a lot of elderly residents around me that are having issues with trees and they can't afford to remove them, nor do they want to plant another tree in its place, which I totally understand."

He then volunteered with work with Miller on exploring the issue.


Here are the Tweets from the meeting:

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