Residents Speak to LT Supers About Blighted Properties, Proposed Clearfield-Lawrence Consolidation

CLEARFIELD – During public comment, a Lawrence Township resident of Legion Road spoke to the supervisors about two neighboring blighted properties and asked what is being done about them. 

She said the one has been abandoned for at least nine years or more, while the other has been empty for about three years.

She noted she has to take care of her property or face fines; however, these are not being cared for.   She asked that the ordinances be enforced and the maximum fines levied and as often as possible.

Code Enforcement Officer Debra Finkbeiner said the older property is currently up for judicial sale and once that process is completed, the house should be demolished. 

With the other, she is working with the solicitor in enforcing the fines.  These are not the only properties they are working on in the township, she noted.

Several residents also raised the issue of the proposed consolidation between the township and Clearfield Borough again. 

Glenn Johnston referred to the last meeting May 2 and asked Supervisor Dan Mitchell how many people spoke to him about not voting to put the proposal on the ballot. 

Mitchell replied it was close to 50 residents and Johnston noted that, with over 7,000 residents in the township, that number is less than one percent. 

Randy Powell (GANT News File Photo)

When asked, Supervisor Randy Powell said hundreds of residents contacted him, and he also has not gotten all the answers he has looked for.

He did acknowledge the two questions answered by Supervisor Bill Lawhead, who has also been a member of the committee.

Johnston noted Lawhead has “availed himself of the information” and asked why Powell has not talked with Lawhead. 

Powell responded that he has spoken with other committee members. He said the only answer he has gotten is that some of the questions cannot be answered until a new council for the new municipality is seated. 

He added that the Pennsylvania Association for Township Supervisors has told him the township should “run like hell” and not consolidate, and he is working on getting the advice from PSATS in writing. 

Powell also said he has talked to residents of both St. Marys and Dauphin and former township residents for both municipalities have not been happy.

Resident Russ Triponey also spoke about consolidation and said many residents he has talked with didn’t even know it was a subject being discussed. 

He had several concerns, beginning with why the borough should be willing to take on township debt if they consolidate? Also, what savings would there be if the two did consolidate?  What about taxes, would they go up or down?

He noted taxes in both Benzinger and Dauphin went up. He also noted that the township has all the advantage for future development and also noted that Sandy Township has long been opposed to consolidating with DuBois and suggested the supervisors talk with Sandy Township’s supervisors.

St. Marys and Benzinger Township consolidated in 1992.  According to a St. Marys Daily Press article dated Dec. 26, 2016, the city tax rate is 18.54 mills; a property with an assess value of $25,000 would pay $463.41 per year.

Resident Gigi Gearhart added that she felt education on the matter is very important and a question-and-answer session could be sent to all residents so they are at least aware of the issue. 

“If we have education, we can all be involved in the situation,” she said, adding that the financial situation both municipalities, especially the township, find themselves in did not happen overnight and the solutions will also not be overnight.

One concern she had is that there is a rumor circulating that one of the new pieces of equipment the Hyde Fire Department is considering purchasing will cost over $1.5 million. 

The supervisors said this is untrue and that the one replacing the tower truck is about $150,000 and it is used, and the other piece is a new truck replacing a 20-year-old one. 

The township has money in a special account from the 2 mills in taxes designated for that purpose.

In other matters, the supervisors approved changing the time for the June 20 meeting from 7 p.m. to 1 p.m. due to a conflict, and a conditional use hearing for timbering on Flegal Road will be held at 12:50 p.m. that day.

The supervisors also approved purchasing a new scoreboard for the baseball fields at the recreation park, to be reimbursed by grant money from the Clearfield County Recreation & Tourism Authority. The cost is approximately $5,100. 

The supervisors also approved erecting signs stating that only ball players may sit on the inside of the fence and spectators must sit outside.

Lawhead reported that there are two active systems treating acid mine drainage on the Montgomery Run Watershed and the watershed group is working on getting funding for another. 

He said they did a year of sampling on the water and were surprised to find an abandoned natural gas well. 

The state Department of Environmental Protection was notified and the well is now on its list.  He thanked the many property owners who have helped with the projects.

 

 

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