Curb appeal? No final word on road width near new Main Street shopping center

By on September 4, 2013

By:

GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent

, Staff Writer

"Nothing new to report."

That was the latest update from Ephrata Township Manager Steve Sawyer just prior to Tuesday evening’s meeting of the township supervisors regarding the controversy surrounding roadway widths in front of the Ephrata Marketplace Project along East Main Street in Ephrata.

Concerns of late have been raised regarding the road width in front of the new shopping center under construction which will include, among other things, a Giant grocery store, a Subway, Five Guys hamburgers and Members First Credit Union. The main concern raised (as first reported in the Aug. 21 Review) alleges that the curbing recently placed in the 800 block of East Main Street creates a roadway too narrow for bicycles and Amish buggies to safely travel side-by-side with the other traffic on this busy state thoroughfare.

Safety is not the only concern raised, however. Traffic flows in that area of town have been a problem that pre-dates even groundbreaking at the Ephrata Marketplace complex. With inadequate space on the roadway for both motorized and non-motorized vehicles, concerns were raised that the result could be significant, long term traffic log jams into the foreseeable future.

All road improvements had to be cleared through a rigorous approval process with PennDOT as well as local and county planning officials. This makes for what can be a confusing map of responsibility for such road improvements.

Township officials do not issue the necessary permits for the roadwork, which is being completed by the project’s developer. Since that portion of Route 322 is a state road, all permits are cleared by PennDOT. But as PennDOT officials have emphasized, the work itself is the responsibility of the developer.

State Rep. Gordon Denlinger’s office has also shown concern over the issue. Denlinger has personally contacted PennDOT for clarification on the issue and to urge cooperation in finding a suitable solution to the situation.

"We have a significant traffic flow issue on 322 in eastern Ephrata," said State Rep. Gordon Denlinger in an interview for the Aug. 21 Review. "Some widening would help with general flow, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and with the Amish buggies that use the corridor."

At that time, he was awaiting a response from PennDOT. And at press time for this week’s Review, resolution on the issue continues to be unclear.

"PennDOT is working with the developer on this," said Sawyer. "But as of yet we have no details as to what will happen or what is proposed. Hopefully we will have something more at the next meeting."

In other township business, supervisors unanimously approved a new ordinance limiting parking at the intersection at Valley View and Glenwood Drive. Supervisor Tyler Zerbe, who lives in the vicinity of the intersection, has fielded several calls from concerned neighbors noting the reduced visibility on approach to the intersection when cars are parked in that area. After a public hearing within Tuesday evening’s meeting in which no members of the public were present to make any comments on the matter, the supervisors closed the hearing and voted to enact the ordinance which will take effect five days following the vote.

Sawyer said he would be reviewing what signage would be necessary to put the new ordinance in advance. He also said he would be in consultation with the Ephrata Police to be sure the correct signs were in place to make the new ordinance enforceable.

According to the new ordinance, the parking of cars along the West side of Glenwood Drive and the South Side of Valley View Drive within 60 feet of the intersection of those two streets, would be prohibited.

And finally, Sawyer asked the supervisors to approve a new contract with The Triscari Group of Camp Hill to develop and handle webhosting for the township’s new website. The costs of the contract is $3,900, which would handle the creation of the new site and conversion of the current site to the new one, which Triscari would then host for $360 per year.

This past spring the township received notice that Lancaster County would no longer be hosting municipal websites, forcing Ephrata Township, along with their counterparts countywide, to look for other options for a web presence.

"Having a web presence is very important," Sawyer pointed out. "And this is growing more and more important than even a newsletter."

Sawyer pointed to the increasing number of calls received by people who had earlier been on the website. And while he conceded not everyone in the township has computer and web access, he estimated the number of those with such access could be as high as 75 percent.

Township solicitor Charles Sheidy added that there is growing support statewide to allow municipalities to advertise new ordinances for public review on their websites instead of via newspaper ads.

Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the new contract.

For additional information on Ephrata Township, visit the township website at ephratatownship.org. Gary P. Klinger welcomes your comments, questions and suggestions via e-mail at klingerglobal@gmail.com.

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