Township, Kyma attempt to resolve impact fee issue
By: ALICE HUMMER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer
It was standing room only as family and friends who patronize Kyma Seafood Grill supported George and Nick Barakos at their hearing to appeal East Cocalico Supervisors’ $28,000 traffic impact fee assessment.
The 8 p.m. hearing, scheduled in the middle of the supervisors Oct. 3 meeting agenda, was "the same as being in a court of law," according to Attorney Joselle Cleary, representing the East Cocalico Supervisors. People giving testimony were sworn in and a court recorder documented proceedings. Wyomissing Attorney James Gavin represented the Barakos brothers.
In 2011, Kyma added a 74-seat deck, known as The Dock, to supplement summertime business. It is open from May until October, with exact opening and closing dates weather dependent.
"Summertime showers can come up quickly and ruin a patron’s expensive meal," Nick Barakos said.
Often patrons exit and do not always pay for their meal if they get rained upon.
That is why Kyma decided to add an awning over the deck. However, when construction proceeded without the proper permitting, East Cocalico Zoning Officer Tony Luongo halted construction until the permitting process could be completed.
East Cocalico officials learned that the non-retractable awning, supported by steel reinforcements, also includes side curtains that can be rolled down due to gusts of wind or other inclement weather conditions. The permit also mentioned a dozen heaters. The Barakos brothers intended to let the awning up year-round, although they stated "it could be taken down."
No additional seating will be created with the additions to the deck.
Scott Russell, East Cocalico Transportation engineer, said, "No traffic impact fee was imposed when the 74-seat deck was added because of its seasonal use."
Russell explained the state’s complex calculations used in assessing a traffic impact fee. He also reminded the Barakos brothers of discussions during the issuing of the original deck permit, that if a roof of any sort were added an impact fee would be imposed.
East Cocalico Manager Mark Hiester entered as evidence a letter issued to the Barakos brothers stating that "any further improvements could trigger a traffic impact fee." Nick Barakos did not recall reading this information in any letters he received from the township.
Gavin introduced a 20-year professional traffic operations engineer, Gregg Bogia.
He testified that "East Cocalico Township already evaluated the 74-seat deck and decided that there were no additional (traffic) trips. There should be no (impact) fee. This project (awning) generates no additional traffic."
"Typically, if a township charges a fee, it’s up front," said Bogia.
Actions taken by the township are consistent with their ordinances, as explained by Russell.
Supervisors will take the matter under advisement and render a decision at their next public meeting, Oct. 17.
Supervisor Alan Fry, who sat quietly throughout the nearly 90-minute hearing, made a statement at the conclusion.
"My goal as a supervisor is to work closely with businesses so they can thrive," said Fry. "I apologize to Nick and his brother."
Clapping and cheers erupted from the audience, whose conduct throughout the hearing was boisterous and at times disorderly.
In other business, supervisors:
? Heard the annual Adamstown Area Library report from Kathy Thren, librarian. East Cocalico accounted for 40,000 items circulated and had 252 children enrolled in the summer reading program. Supervisors commended the remarkable job that Thren and her staff do to serve the community. Especially critical and useful is the computer instruction offered to assist people who are looking for employment. Citizens are encouraged to check out the library’s new website: adamstownarealibrary.org. Tabs on the website include a free download of e-books, live homework help and a total of 33 online tools people can access from home.
? Approved a time extension until Jan. 22, 2014 for the preliminary land development plan for Dollar General.
? Answered a citizen’s question regarding when the shopping center on Col. Howard Boulevard would be starting by stating that supervisors and the township manager have tried to get more information about this and there is no further information available.
? Approved the Cocalico Creek Watershed Association grant support letter.
"The monetary support from the township the CCWA letter asks for is $45,000, Hiester said. "Some of the money could be in-kind service and there is some ‘credit’ for phosphorous, etc. that will be taken out of the stream during clean-up."
Supervisors concurred it would be prudent to put the money in the 2013 budget; if not all of it is used, it can be put toward another need. Other contiguous municipalities also received the CCWA request for support letter. More KYMA, page A10