East Cocalico interim township manager to be selected

By on July 31, 2019

An interim township manager to replace the outgoing Scott Russell could soon be named in East Cocalico Township.

Russell, whose last day as township manager in Aug. 28, told the board of supervisors at their July 18 meeting that the search for a temporary replacement has “gone very well” with two “very outstanding candidates” vying for the job.

Although no names were mentioned at the public meeting, Russell said he expects to have a candidate ready for the board to consider hiring at the Aug. 1 meeting. That meeting is set to start at 9 a.m.
At the July meeting, the board also discussed updating their capital improvement plan to reflect changes at the proposed Black Horse development site to include a new bypass road. The new roadway would allow motorists traveling on Hill Road to access Route 272 at a new traffic signal. This would eliminate dangerous left turns off Hill Road, especially during peak traffic hours. The bypass’s location would “split the difference” between the present Hill Road and the 272 bridge over the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
“Hill Road has been a thorn in everybody’s side,” said board member Doug Mackley, adding that the intersection as is does not meet state warrants that would allow for a signal.

The project also gives Pepperidge Farms room for expansion by allowing the company to shift its current access road to align with the Hill Road bypass. This would allow Pepperidge Farm to erect a new building on its site if it so chooses.

Currently the Black Horse site includes Brancyn’s Restaurant (formerly the Black Horse Restaurant), the Black Horse motel, an antiques store, a Re-Uzit store, and an area now used for truck parking. Under the development plan, these would all be razed to make room for new project which would include a fast food restaurant, some retail space, a hotel and a truck stop.

This latter use generated some discussion among the board and public as supervisors emphatically stated that the proposed truck stop would not be “a mega-thing” holding 100 or 200 trucks. Rather, it would hold “30 to 40 trucks,” Russell said.

At present, Russell said, trucks often park along side roads and even along Route 222. The reason, Russell said, is because the nearby Acme distribution center, one of the largest in the nation, regulates the times when trucks may pull in. Truckers arriving too early face fines.

“So they park anywhere they can,” Russell said.

As for the land use itself, Russell said the types of business being proposed are “not destination types” so the development “will not be a major traffic generator.”

Overall, the Black Horse plan sat well with the board. Supervisor Romao “RC” Carrasco called it a “needed” project.

“I encourage this kind of development,” he said.

Mackley said it’s a “good use, good ideas.”

In other business, the board discussed their MS4 stormwater program that involves stream bed stabilization to be carried out during the township’s next 5-year permit cycle from the state Department of Environment Protection.

The area being looked at is about a 1-mile stretch of the Cocalico Creek near Denver Park and the Pennsylvania Turnpike overpass. The project would be a partnership between East Cocalico Township, Denver Borough, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Penn Eastern Rail Lines.

Russell said that each municipality or entity is mandated by the DEP to submit plans for their next five year permitting cycle. The goal is to reduce pollutants flowing into the waterways. Denver and East Cocalico would do projects along the stream banks in their municipalities while the Turnpike would be focusing on the waterway around the concrete piers that support the bridge. The turnpike would also do stabilization 150 feet in each direction from the bridge.

The project proposed, Russell said, can tie into bridge maintenance “in terms of scouring as the water washes along the bridge piers.”

“There’s a big positive for the turnpike,” Russell said.

Penn Eastern’s is also involved. The rail line has track running parallel to the creek so the stream “washes into the rail bed,” said Ken McCrea, the township’s stormwater manager. From a security perspective, he said, it is in the railroad’s best interest to help stabilize the stream.

“They have actual right-of-way, so they’re an actual property owner,” Russell informed the board.
Neighboring landowners can be part of the program, Russell said. One farmer’s land includes 1,000 feet of stone wall bordering the creek.

“As farmers have done in Lancaster County for over a hundred years, they pile up the stone along their property lines and stream banks,” he said. “There’s one field where a stone wall abuts the work area so it can be utilized as part of the project.”

Russell believes that the township’s plan would be looked upon favorably by DEP with East Cocalico, Denver Borough and the turnpike all being involved.

“That would score very, very well from a grant funding perspective,” he said.

The work being proposed is several years out as the new five year permitting cycle only begins in 2024.
In the meantime, to jump-start the project, the board approved a motion to apply for a Community Conservation Grant that would allow the municipality to begin some small stream work. The grants, which require a matching amount from the municipality, run between $2,500 and $5,000.

Also at the meeting the supervisors voted to opt out of a state decision to allow video terminals to be placed at various businesses. Opting out does not exclude video terminals from the township, however businesses that wish to install them must appear before the supervisors to obtain permission. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Larry Alexander is a freelance columnist for The Ephrata Review. He is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He can be contacted at larry2851@yahoo.com.

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