Morris Twp. supervisors discuss MVJSA plan|
Friday, April 8, 2011
By Tyler Kolesar Staff Writer
MORRISDALE - An informative session took place at last night's Morris Township Supervisors' meeting. A packed house heard issues with the Moshannon Valley Joint Sewer Authority's Act 537 plan and a clouded deed situation with numerous township residents.
Vic Couturiaux, who is a Municipal Authority of the Township of Morris board member and represents the township on the MVJSA board, sent out a letter to all representatives involved with MVJSA inviting them to the meeting. Couturiaux spoke of his concerns with the Act 537 plan and the Chesapeake Bay mandates.
Couturiaux said originally the plan cost more than $14 million but is now in excess of $17 million, and he said the community can't handle that kind of money. Once the project goes through, sewer bills will rise to more than $30 a month.
Couturiaux questioned the process by MVJSA's engineer Tom Levine. He said the project was submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection for approval, even though the township did not accept the Act 537 plan. All other municipalities have accepted it, but Couturiaux said the Philipsburg Borough Planning Commission raised the same questions and concerns on the project.
MVJSA also has not gotten a second opinion on the project, to which Couturiaux believes there could be a cheaper solution. He estimates MVJSA has already spent approximately $600,000-$800,000 on the matter and it doesn't have a final solution yet.
"It seems like there's stuff happening that's happening fast," said Couturiaux. "There's just a lot of things with the 537 project that I don't agree with. ... You don't spend $800,000 and not know where you're headed. ... Bottom line is that it's gonna cost us a lot of money."
Couturiaux said if MVJSA doesn't get a second opinion on the project, he said the township would be better off to spend the money themselves, as he said it would likely be cheaper in the long run.
Supervisor John Saggese echoed Couturiaux's statement, and said he is against the project. Couturiaux also said without a second opinion, they can't receive Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority funding for the project. Couturiaux said while he respects Levine as a worker and as a person, he believes Levine and company are going about it the wrong way.
Other municipality representatives were given the chance to speak about their concerns.
Decatur Township representative Andy Rebar said he was there to listen and would think about Couturiaux's concerns before speaking about it at MVJSA's meeting Monday night.
Rush Township Supervisor Pat Couturiaux also said the process was rushed.
Chester Hill Borough Manager Don Enck said the project would raise the Chester Hill residents' quarterly bill to around $185 and called it "ridiculous."
By not accepting the Act 537 plan, Chairman Mike Polachek said many people think the township is the "black sheep" in the situation. However, Polachek, Couturiaux and the other supervisors wanted to let the other public officials know their stance on the matter and why they don't feel it's right to accept it.
"Until it hits the pocket book, people aren't interested," said Polachek.
The other issue was about the recent clouded deed situation that affects more than 700 Morris Township landowners, as well as some in Graham Township.
Solicitor F. Cortez "Chip" Bell III said on June 24, 2008, John Walker of DuBois filed a deed giving him a 40 percent interest in 964 parcels of ground that covered more than 2,700 acres. On July 28, 2008, Walker created a chain of title by deeding the property to himself and his wife. The goal of the scheme was to obtain gas and mineral rights from the property owners, thus making Walker wealthy.
Walker pleaded guilty to the scam last month in front of Clearfield County Judge Paul E. Cherry.
Because of the clouded deeds, residents would have to spend their money to clear their names, and the supervisors encouraged the county to make it right.
Bell said on April 1, Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman released an order stating the two fraudulent deeds have been declared null and void, thus being removed entirely from the records system. While this clears the 40 percent interest on the properties, citizens asked what happens to the other 60 percent.
A similar situation occurred with the other 60 percent, but Bell said they were not working together. Bell and the supervisors suggested to the people that a similar conclusion should take place in the upcoming months, and they encouraged patience among the township residents rather than spending their own money to clear up their deeds.
In other news:
• A nearly $500,000 grant has been awarded to the township for the Alder Run Project, which includes the installation of a water treatment plant. A press release was issued in The Progress last week with the details of the project. Polachek said it was a "win-win" situation for the township, as DEP is paying for the entire project.
The property for the project of roughly three acres was donated to the township by owners Bob and Dorothy Hoover. The supervisors thanked the Hoover's for their generosity in donating the land needed for the project, and said the efforts wouldn't have been possible without them.
• Todd Lombardo, officer in charge of Morris-Cooper Regional Police Authority, urged residents to lock their doors at night and when not home. He also stated the Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting held March 29 was a success and hopes the citizens will continue with the matter.
Saggese said a Neighborhood Watch meeting with Bradford and Cooper townships will be held at a date to be determined. He encourages township residents to get involved with the project.
• The township planning commission reviewed the Flood Plan Ordinance and gave their approval. The supervisors passed a motion to send the ordinance to Clearfield County to review.
• May 14 will be cleanup day in the township from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. All residents are urged to clean up their properties. If residents need help removing items, they are asked to contact the township office for more information.
• A motion was made to allow Bell to advertise the Dust Control Ordinance, with hopes of adopting it at the May meeting.