Supervisors work to obtain forest buffer grant

By on March 21, 2018

With an eye toward obtaining $100,000 from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Ephrata Township supervisors gave unanimous approval to township engineer Jim Caldwell of Rettew Associates to proceed with a forest buffer grant application.

The application to the DCNR will cost about $5,000 to compile, due to various forms, blueprint plans, and documented specifications.

It’s imperative that the application accurately meets the grant criteria if they want to have a chance in obtaining the grant, Caldwell told the supervisors.

The forest buffer grant is a matching funds grant, so if the township receives $100,000 from the DCNR, they’ll have to come up with a like amount.

“I’d like to move forward with it, if we can save $100,000,” said Supervisor J. Tyler Zerbe. “We’d be foolish not to try.”

The township is working with the developer of the Autumn Hills residential subdivision to implement their MS4 plan in the area. Included in the plan is a stream bank stabilization along the Cocalico Creek and a riparian buffer.

The MS4 is the municipality’s mandated pollution reduction plan for the Environmental Protection Agency.

A portion of the Warwick to Ephrata Rail Trail goes through the Autumn Hills development, so the supervisors initially hoped to receive a recreation grant from the DCNR.

But, only a short distance of the northern part of the rail trail goes through the land and Caldwell was told by a DCNR representative that their application was not very competitive and had little chance of being granted.

Now, Caldwell will meet with another DCNR advisor to ascertain if the township would be eligible to apply for the forest buffer grant.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about this grant,” Caldwell said.

The application is due in early April and grants will be awarded later this year, Caldwell said.

Dealing with scams

Ephrata Chief of Police William Harvey gave the supervisors the monthly rundown of criminal activity and motor accidents in the township.

This is Harvey’s tenth year as police chief for the area.

He had some concern over four fraud cases. While it’s not a big number, each fraud case can involve swindling someone ­ usually a senior citizen ­out of large amounts of money, he said.

The Ephrata Area Police Department has done some outreach with senior citizen groups to make them aware of possible scams, Chief Harvey said.

Two of the scams making the rounds are of a phone caller telling an elderly person that his or her grandson is in jail, but they can raise bail by going to Wal-Mart and buying gift cards, then transferring those cards to the caller.

Another scam is telling folks, again by phone, that they’ve won a lottery, but must deposit a significant amount of cash in a certain bank account in order to get their winnings.

Older people can be bilked out of a lot of money in these ways, Harvey said, adding that he wants to get the word out to people so they’ll be more aware if they receive phony ‘get rich quick’ calls.

Plans for incident training

Chief Harvey also offered his services to the township for an hour of “Active Shooter Training.”

Harvey has been teaching different groups in the area about safe ways to act and what to do in the event of a shooter incident.

The training is for employees, their friends and family.

Harvey has also been doing crime prevention workshops for houses of worship, he said. The parishioners want to be prepared in case of criminal activity, Harvey said.

Chairman Clark Stauffer said he would confer with Township Manager Steve Sawyer to come up with a time for the training, adding that they might schedule the training for an hour before their monthly meeting.

Organic poultry business approved

The supervisors recently gave approval for Organic Poultry Partners to establish their business in an already-existing 80,000 square feet building located at 501 Alexander Drive, Ephrata.

The site is the location of the former American Dyeing and Finishing business, which ceased operating years ago.

The Ephrata Township Zoning Hearing Board had also given their approval for the business.

The business will be an organic poultry production facility with a small retail store on site. According to the owners, the business will employ 80 to 140 people and annually generate $30 million in sales.

The property is located in the industrial zoning district and has truck access to Route 272. Plant improvements are beginning now and production is planned for 2019.

LGH construction plans

The supervisors approved a waiver of land development plan processing at 4 Helen Ave. for LGH construction.

LGH had requested the waiver of the requirement for a formal land development plan to allow a building expansion to an existing building of 1,725 feet.

The expansion is more than 20 percent of the original building, but less than 2,000 feet, Caldwell said, recommending that the supervisors approve the request.

The expansion does not change the impervious surface area of the project.

Other happenings and approvals

It was recently made known that Nathan and Grace Reiff of 2902 Rothsville Road have agreed to provide the township with an easement of 15 feet by 300 feet for a proposed parking lot off Millway Road for a Rail Trail parking lot.

The couple also agreed to a temporary construction easement for storm water improvements for no compensation.

The township staff sent a thank you letter to the Reiffs for their support of the Rail Trail project.

The township received notice that the Ragnor Relay will be held on June 15 and 16 and will travel through a section of the rail trail and Stevens Road.

The supervisors also approved a request from the Ephrata Baseball Association and the Ephrata Youth Soccer Club to use the fields at the Ephrata Township Community Park this spring and summer.

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