Hydrant location fires up conversation at Adamstown council session

By on January 11, 2017
The fire hydrant at the center of discussion at the Adamstown Borough Council meeting.

The fire hydrant at the center of discussion at the Adamstown Borough Council meeting.

An odd issue was the main topic at the Jan. 3 Adamstown Borough Council meeting: a fire hydrant is three feet from a resident’s home.

Not so odd, folks said, as it is located in Stoudtburg Village which has experienced some issues in its history.

Council Vice President Dave Matz brought forward the concern of village resident Wayne Stephany who was not able to attend the meeting. A fire hydrant is “very” close to Stephany’s home at 40 Bissenden Way, Matz said.

“I have mixed feelings on this,” said Fire Chief Steve Roth. “If the guy’s house burns, we’re not going to use that fire hydrant, obviously.”

Initially Roth and council members agreed it would be labor intensive, using taxpayer money to remove it. Still, opinions and possibilities flew back and forth for 45 minutes as to what to do with the hydrant–including allowing Stephany to decorate the hydrant with flowers and foliage.

Matz asked if the hydrant could be shut off, capped, and welded shut.

“Could that be facilitated and not impare our ability to fight a fire?” asked Matz.

“One of the questions he (Stephany, in a letter) asked was: ‘Why was the builder allowed to build so close?’ because it’s really close,” said Councilman Mike Wetherhold. “It’s a poor arrangement and I do sympathize with his situation.”

“The hydrant was there first, and then the building is built, then the customer buys the building,” said Matz. “If that was so painful, why did he buy the building?”

“He should have brought it up to the builder before he bought it,” said Councilman Alex McManimen.

“I’m president of Stoudtburg Village Property Owners Association,” said John Schmidt. “There are hydrants, one’s approximately 300 feet across the road from that one, another one 500 feet, another 500 feet. The gentleman purchased the property second-hand, but still, the hydrant was there when he bought it.

“As an ex-firefighter, I will tell you, I think it’s (hydrant) is useless. There’s another house that will be going in five feet from that hydrant.”

Council and Roth discussed more possibilities to eleminate the hydrant, while not damaging Stephany’s home in the process.

“I would not be in favor of spending taxpayer dollars to fix this problem, however, if we go ahead and move forward and we don’t need the hydrant, we’ll gain a $2,000 hydrant to use some place else,” said Councilwoman Cindy Schweitzer. “So then the theory is that we could use up to $2,000 to attempt to fix the problem.”

Matz asked if it would have to be rebuilt.

“There’s replaceable parts in them that are serviceable, they’re working fine, reusing it if need be, but at this point, we’re not looking to replace any hydrants,” said Mike Palm, public works superintendent.

Schweitzer said there could be “damage to his foundation” if they remove the hydrant and Stephany would have to first “sign off.”

Discussion then turned to backhoes, contractors, and the mechanical way to remove the hydrant.

Matz asked Schmidt if the homeowners and builder, Keystone Custom Homes, could get together to “go over the landscape and make sure that this isn’t going to be a problem in another area when more houses are built.”

Matz noted “the track record up there (Stoudtburg Village) with multiple developers down through the years…” as he shook his head and the comment lowered to inaudible.

Adamstown resident Helen Shaak was vocal in the unwanted fire hydrant removal project.

“It still shouldn’t be the borough’s cost to move the fire hydrant because if there’s a fire up there and you need that fire hydrant, then you’re going to have people coming after you because you moved the fire hydrant,” said Shaak.

Wetherhold wants Keystone to be involved in the problem. No decisions were made regarding the issue.

In other news:

Ephrata Police Lt. Thomas Shumaker mentioned in the police briefing that the EPD received a complaint from a citizen regarding the “no left-turn, one-way area going off 272 into the pool area.”

“She feels there’s a lot of violations there but she thinks it may be due to confusion,” said Shumaker. “When you approach from the north, it simply says, ‘no right turn,’ and I’m not sure if motorists are getting confused in thinking that that small little driveway to the right is okay to access. Motorists do not realize they are driving into a ‘do not enter, one-way street’,” he said.

Shumaker asked council to “reconsider reevaluating that before we take enforcement action.” Adamstown Borough contracts coverage from Ephrata Police.

Council members announced their 2017 appointments:

Sam Toffy, secretary/assistant treasurer; Treasure, Lisa Crouse, treasurer; Mark Schweitzer, planning commission (four-year term); Diane Hertzog, deputy tax collector; Dean Johnson, borough representative at police meetings;

Tommy Kashatus, Cocalico Area Appeals Board; Mike Hession and alternate Carolyn Hildebrand, Cocalico School District Municipal representative and alternate for LCTCB;

Dwight Yoder, Gibbel, Kraybill and Hess, zoning hearing board attorney; Susan Russo (by resolution), zoning hearing board (three-year term);

Josele Cleary of Morgan, Hallgren, Crosswell and Kane, borough solicitor; Hanover Engineering Associates, borough engineer; Scott Brown and Christopher Taylor, Hanover Engineering, sewage enforcement officer;

Robert Getz, rental inspector/code enforcement officer; Jim Franey, CIS, zoning officer.

Council members and their offices remain unchanged.

A couple of Adamstown residents were recognized for their generousity to the borough:

Council thanked fellow Councilman McManimenfor his donation of light poles to the borough which will be used at the pool.

Curtis Fritz of C.L. Fritz & Son donated his time to run wiring at the billboard sign near the pool, which was part of an Eagle Scout project.

Michele Walter Fry welcomes your comments at michelewalterfry@gmail.com.

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