BC Chicken remains at site once intended for community center Several other income options under consideration

By on February 22, 2012

By: MICHELLE REIFF Review Staff mreiff.eph@lnpnews.com, Staff Writer

BC Natural Chicken will continue to occupy 1975 N. Reading Road, a taxpayer-owned site once earmarked for a community center.

The lease agreement, which was announced during the Feb. 15 East Cocalico Township supervisors meeting, will keep the meat processing facility as a municipal tenant through 2013.

"That is good news," said Noelle Fortna, township secretary. "I’m glad they decided to stay."

East and West Cocalico townships, who own the property along with Denver and Adamstown boroughs, have decided to hold onto the site during the current tough economic times. Consideration for a Cocalico Community Center has been put on hold indefinitely, although Lancaster YMCA officials recently discussed the site as a possible satellite location.

The municipalities bought the property for $3.76 million more than six years ago. Since then, they have been looking for ways to avoid taking a financial loss.

In addition to continuing to rent to BC Natural Chicken, several other actions will be taken to ensure incoming revenue.

The structural engineer has decided to repair a few items to maintain the building, including caulking, the chimney and cracked cinder blocks in the walls which seem to be moving inward due to change in temperature.

"It was 40 degrees and now it is freezing, so the walls are constricting and moving in," said Fortna.

Another step being taken toward securing the future of the property is a loan modification through Ephrata National Bank. This will be done instead of refinancing, as was proposed at a previous meeting.

"They are offering a rate of 4.5 percent for five years," said Fortna, who noted that this is a 1.5 percent savings from the present rate of six percent. In five years the bank will be in contact with the municipalities again with current rates.

Farming is also under consideration for the North Reading Road property, including the East Cocalico Township building. Based on the advice of the board, township manager Mark Hiester is exploring the possibility of farming the two areas, about 12.8 acres (not including the part which is already being farmed).

"It could save us from mowing and collect a little bit of rent," said Hiester. "We would like to give it to one farmer for both pieces."

Hiester noted that last year the township’s total mowing cost between $11,000 and $12,000 for eight or nine acres. This new farming proposal would bring the mowing down to an acre and a half at the township building and a small area at the pool.

The board will work with the solicitor on the draft of a five-year plan.

The final method to collect revenue that is continuing to be explored for the near future for the property is the parking of tractor-trailers; the municipalities will collect rent from the truck drivers.

In other business:

? Owners of a the property at 4 E. Summit Drive have been cited after a HazMat duty officer witnessed chemicals running down the driveway and into the street Jan. 6. This occurred after the owners were instructed to remove chemicals being stored collectively at the location last August.

? Hiester updated the board on what was discussed at a previous meeting regarding a request for police support for the Uber Endurance Race at Stoudtburg Village April 21. The supervisors received more details on the route, as requested.

Chief George Beever made the decision to allow fire police. Hiester contacted the local fire companies, who are looking for donations to offset costs. He noted the companies are have trouble obtaining fire police.

? The township has submitted approximately $20,000 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement from the flood last September. Most of this entails damage from the Weaver Road area and the cost of engineers for bridge inspection. It is expected the money will be received in about 90 days.

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