Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Meeting of the Whole May 26, 2015 Summary - Part 2

NOTE: In the previous post, it was stated that Columbia Borough Council President Mike Beury said during the meeting that he was resigning from council.  He also stated he had written up his resignation during the meeting. When Item 13c of the agenda (sale of wastewater treatment plant) was discussed, he said he could not resign until he signed papers related to the sale on May 27 (this morning). As of this writing, it is not known if he actually tendered his resignation. At the end of last night's meeting, council adjourned to a personnel session.

A second summary of the highlights of the May 26 Meeting of the Whole:

Chiques Rock Outfitters
Jim Cox, proprietor of Chiques Rock Outfitters, asked to install a bait vending machine at River Park. Councillor Barry Ford read him a lengthy statement from the borough's solicitor detailing stipulation for such a venture.  In summary, the project must be bid out.

Columbia Kettle Works
Bill Collister, Columbia Kettle Works proprietor, asked council for a variance to allow sidewalk tables and seating outside his establishment on Third Street. He stated that his enterprise has succeeded in bringing people into town and that his customer base is fairly well-off. He also stated that his business is more of an attraction than a bar and closes by 10 p.m. Council informed him that such seating must be at least 20 feet from any adjacent street (for example, Walnut Street or Avenue H) and that a number of parking spaces versus seats must be provided, according to ordinance. Councillor Ford said he would talk to Zoning and Planning Officer Jeff Helm about the issue.

Municipal Legislation
Councillor Barry Ford discussed a requirement for registration/inspection for vehicles to park on borough streets. After a brief discussion, he expressed his displeasure with the codes department citing people for backyard basketball nets.

"We've got bigger fish to fry in Columbia," he said. "We want people to be out playing."

Ford also expressed concern over the so-called "bomb trains," trains hauling a large number of oil-carrying cars. He stated his wish to send a letter to Senator Bob Casey supporting his efforts to address train safety, since trains run through the borough on a regular basis. Mayor Leo Lutz added that the issue relates to Homeland Security.

Sewage Issue
Jerry Hawn, who owns a property on the 500 block of Walnut Street, addressed council about the sewage problem he has dealt with since January.  He had addressed council about this issue at a previous meeting. Although the situation has since been resolved,  Mr. Hawn expressed concern over the lack of response from the codes department, citing specific phone calls that were not returned.  He presented photographs of his basement with a significant amount of sewer water on the floor.  He also stood a five-gallon bucket on the floor before councillors and asked what would happen if he spilled the contents.  Council stated that he would have to clean it up, and then he asked, "What happens if I don't?"  He said that codes cited his son for a butterfly bush growing out of concrete, but would not condemn a house with a sewer water leak.  

Interim Borough Manager Ron Miller and council remained steadfast that it is not the borough's problem;  he was told to file a civil lawsuit.  Mr. Hawn tried pointing out that the codes department bears some responsibility in their failure to act. 


  1. Recently, borough council has said that they want to hold landlords responsible for their properties and yet here is a perfect example of how they could have done that. Had they acknowledged that this was sewer water from the beginning, the neighboring property could have been condemned for health issues. Light a fire under the landlord by shutting off the income from the property, I bet it would have been fixed a lot faster. Mr. Hahn stated that he also is a landlord and had reached out to his neighbor first before contacting codes. It is clear to see which landlord is willing to do the right thing, unfortunately it is also clear which one gets no back up from the borough. Why on earth would the borough want to give a good landlord such a hard time????? Why??????

  2. it's time the council takes the president up on the offer