Yet again… Two issues just won’t go away in West Cocalico

By on September 17, 2014

Looking for closure can be a challenge in municipal governing and two controversial ongoing issues continued to require the attention of the West Cocalico supervisors at their Sept. 16 meeting.

Yet again the supervisors tackled the matter of the property at 1975 N. Reading Road of which they are one of four partners.

Supervisors want to pay up on West Cocalico’s outstanding share of an original $3.7-million-plus loan on the property.

They asked Carolyn Friesema, township manager, to speak with a local bank about the matter. Officials there cautioned against West Cocalico paying off its share of the loan noting that if any of the other partner municipalities defaulted, West Cocalico would still be liable until the outstanding loan was totally repaid.

Friesema said the bank advised the supervisors speak with solicitor Larry B. Maier for direction, Maier, on an extended vacation, is expected to be back at work next week.

At its Sept. 4 meeting, Friesema presented the board with a loan payoff calculation. West Cocalico was responsible for 32 percent of the full $3.7 million purchase price of the land. The township’s outstanding balance is $376,368.83, she reported then.

Friesema said the loan is costing the township $40 a day.

Supervisor James J. Stoner, who along with his colleagues has been vocal about getting out of the partnership as soon as possible, said he was concerned about reports that East Cocalico, with a 46 percent ownership of the property, does not have the funds at hand to pay off its share.

East Cocalico is the deedholder. The 20-plus-acre property with a 45,000-square-foot warehourse was purchased in 2006 at the height of the real estate market for $3.7 million. It was intended to be used for a community recreation center. It was sold in late August to DenTech Inc. of Brownstown, the sole bidder in an open process, for $1.7 million. A 7.069-acre parcel was separated from the property and donated back to East Cocalico by DenTech. The future of that parcel remains in question, but the buyer instructed East Cocalico that any proceeds from it be share with the other three municipalities.

Friesema said a meeting on the matter had been set for Sept. 15, but was cancelled by East Cocalico.

The supervisors also discussed the continuing stormwater management issue at the PPL substation on Swamp Bridge Road. At issue here are swales along the road that were constructed too close to the roadbed and outside of PennDOT regulations. The substation project has been rife with problems and concerns by the supervisors that construction was done without the proper planning steps. PPL has said there was never a need for planning protocol as the company is answerable to and protected by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The size of the swales and their proximity to the road has created runoff impacting traffic in heavy downpours. There is also concern that vehicles running off the road could strike the swales and flip.

The supervisors unanimously decided to pursue the issue with PPL. The board will send a letter to the PPL legal department indicating the possible initiation of litigation on the township’s part.

In other business:

• Police Chief George Beever said the department has received a $3,500 donation from the Fritztown Fire Department, its second. The funds will be used to upgrade forensic equipment and to repair some existing equipment.

He also noted the new county radio system is expected to go live the week of Oct. 6, primarily for county agencies. The first police departments will go live in November. When totally activated, the system will provide coverage to 98 percent of Lancaster County. It has been in the works for nearly two decades.

• Friesema reported that she, roadmaster Tom Showalter, and Bruce Leisey, Clay Township manager, visited Lester Gehman’s farm at 565 Schoeneck Road. The trio examined the area where Indian Run is disappearing. At the same time, Friesema and Showalter examined the Hackman and Pleasantview road bridges to determine their structural well being.

• Showalter reported that paving of Stobers Dam Road is complete, lines were painted on Horseshoe Trail Road, shoulder mowing was done on all township roads, and paving of the parking lot at Chapel Gate Park was completed.

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