Boro revises use of alcoholic beverages

By on May 15, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER klingerglobal@gmail.com

, Staff Writer

Council unanimously approved a revision to the borough’s policy regarding the code on alcoholic beverages on borough property during its May 13 meeting.

Since it was originally enacted, the borough has added several additional locations. The revisions account for all borough properties, allowing the use of not-for-sale alcoholic beverages but will be considered and approved on a case-by-case basis.

"The main reason for the revision is to bring its wording up to speed with current times," noted special projects committee chair Melvin Weiler. "We will still consider applications regarding not-for-sale alcohol on borough properties on a case-by-case basis."

The Ephrata Public Library will take advantage of the change and serve wine at the VIP invitation-only Discover Earth event on May 18.

A special flag now adorns the flag pole at the Whistle Stop Plaza in Downtown Ephrata thanks to the effort of the borough’s Shade Tree Commission who filled obligations necessary to earn Ephrata a distinction of being a Tree City USA.

Council member and chair of the recently reactivated Shade Tree Commission George DiIlio updated council on measures being taken to maintain and enhance what DiIlio described as our urban forest.

"The Tree City USA program is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters," stated DiIlio. "It provides direction, technical assistance, public attention and national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities. The benefits of being a Tree City include creating a framework for action, education, a positive public image, and civic pride."

In order to be considered for Tree City USA status, a community must meet four standards established by The Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters. It must have a tree board or department, a community tree ordinance, a community forestry program with an annual budget of at least $2 per capita and an Arbor Day observance and proclamation. These standards were established to ensure that every qualifying community would have a viable tree management plan and program and that no community would be excluded because of size.

Ephrata Borough was able to meet all four requirements in 2012. DiIlio noted that the borough’s tree-related program includes all activities of the Shade Tree Commission, the Public Works Department, and the Parks and Recreation Department. In 2012, the borough’s annual expenditures for tree-related activities was $108,240.56, which far exceeds the goal of $2 per capita.

In October, Ephrata Borough was awarded a TreeVitalize Grant of $9,630 for the planting of 85 trees, which will be planted along streets, on parkland, and other public land.

The grant was made available through the Lancaster County TreeVitalize Metro Program, which is administered through a partnership between the Lancaster County Conservation District and LIVE Green Lancaster.

DiIlio also discussed the borough’s Tree Tenders program to council.

"One of the requirements of the TreeVitalize Grant Program is that the applicant must be able to verify a number of trained and certified Tree Tenders volunteers," explained DiIlio. "Tree Tenders is a training program that empowers concerned residents to make dramatic strides towards restoring and caring for their local tree canopy."

This training course was developed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) in collaboration with Penn State Extension. Ephrata Borough currently has nine certified and trained tree-tenders. They include DiIlio, Jay Snyder, Kevin Neiles, Brad Crills, Marsha DiBonaventuro, Jim Brodt, Kim Fasnacht, Chandra Mast and Justin Snyder.

According to DiIlio, the borough’s Public Works Department has planted 39 trees on borough streets.

DiIlio also outlined an aggressive work program for the entirety of 2013. Some of those items listed have already been completed and include planting the trees funded in part by the 2012 TreeVitalize grant, conducting an annual Arbor Day activity, assessing the condition of street trees on West Main Street between Parkway and the Cocalico Creek, and developing a comprehensive tree planting plan. The commission plans to prepare press releases regarding the additional tree planting activity and other Shade Tree Commission activities, apply for more grants for the planting of additional trees within the borough, trim trees on Main Street as needed, apply for a Tree City USA designation for 2014 and host a Tree Tender training session.

Mayor Ralph Mowen questioned DiIlio on whether any of the unplanted trees might be planted in the Irene Avenue Park, which DiIlio confirmed.

Council member Vic Richard asked DiIlio about policy regarding trees that may come in contact with the power lines and the power company’s butchering the tree in the process.

"I’m not sure what the borough policy is on this but I will look into this," responded DiIlio. "In all cases we must be very careful to make sure we are planting the right trees in the right location to avoid any conflict with the power lines.

"There is an on-going debate on this: are the trees interfering with the power lines or are the power lines interfering with the trees?" quipped Dillio.

One audience member questioned DiIlio on whether he would need a permit to remove a tree on his own property. DiIlio explained that any tree not in the public right-of-way could be removed without a permit. Trees located between the curb and the sidewalk would require a permit.

Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey was presented with the Advanced Certification for Emergency Management from PEMA by LEMA director Randy Gockley.

"Typically this takes a period of three years to complete the level of training required to receive this certification," stated an excited Gockley. "Bill completed this in 10 months. Due to his years of experience, the three-year requirement was waived. Borough is very blessed to have Bill Harvey on duty."

Council also voted to deny a request to open the alley located behind Penn and Ephrata avenues between Second and Third streets. Council heard from local residents who were largely against the measure at a special hearing held in conjunction with the April 1 borough council meeting. The vote to deny was unanimous, except for the abstention by council president Dale Hertzog who owns property touching the alley.

For additional information on Ephrata Borough, visit their website at ephrataboro.org.

Gary P. Klinger welcomes your questions, comments and suggestions via email at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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