In a clear sign of the escalating discord in the lake-side community, Council members directed Counsil to draft correspondence likely to prohibit Nuangola Borough Sewer Authority from conducting meetings in the borough building.
Notice of the rift began when John DiRico, husband of the former Sewer Authority Secretary Sally DiRico, asked Council President John Kochan to intervene because the sewer authority would not allow public comment at the previous evening’s meeting.
Solicitor Jack Dean advised, “They are not a committee of this borough. They are a separate, independent body under the Municipal Planning Code. Having said that, all public bodies should accept public comment. I don’t know if they are or not because I don’t attend sewer authority meetings.”
“I understand they are not,” DiRico said. “So I looked up the Sunshine Law.”
Kochan responded, “I know 3 members of council that were there last night,” indicating Michelle Zawoiski and Vice President Joseph Tucker.
The third member present –Michael Johnson –serves on the Sewer Authority. He admitted hesitantly, “The chairman of the sewer authority has elected to say that they are under no legal obligation at accept public comment.”
Tucker interjected heatedly, “There was a member of the zoning hearing board, a planning commission member, the vice president of council and a councilwoman there and they wouldn’t let us speak. Even when I had things to tell them about the roads; and about a grinder pump that has been sitting on our property for a year and a half.”
Johnson noted, “I might add that the chairman is following the guidelines that the Mountain Top Area Joint Sanitary Authority has and they do not allow public comment.”
The solicitor was asked to review the policy.
In his Sewer Authority report, Johnson noted that an escalation in underway in the measures being implemented to force sewer connections and the payment of user fees. He said a letter is being sent to all residents who have not yet connected to the system, “It was mandatory that they connect by February of 2014 and as the result of their failure to connect, they are subject to the possibility of being cited by borough council through the magistrate’s office and subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per day plus the cost of prosecution.
“Writs of Execution on those who have not paid their tap-in fees and usage fees have been prepared. We have a meeting scheduled with a third party collection law firm to discuss the possibility of them coming on board to enforce and collect on our delinquent accounts.
“That,” Johnson concluded, “is where we stand. We are doing everything we are supposed to be doing.”
“I hate to bring this up,” Kochan responded, “but they’ve been living here free in this borough building and yesterday they had a meeting and they declared that the people that own this building cannot speak at their meetings. Therefore I think they should find a new space.”
Tucker reminded that council voted last month to give notice that the authority will need to find new accommodations. Johnson countered that the motion was to terminate or draft a lease. Kochan added that there will be many conditions on a lease.
Atty. Dean said he will draft the letter, but he added that he was contacted by a resident and asked to discourage the eviction because it will only result in additional cost to borough residents.
Other sewer issues were raised under Tucker’s Roadmaster report regarding the damages to roads and borough equipment in the aftermath of the construction project. He said that parts of Van Avenue have, “disintegrated.” He has contacted Franzosa Trucking, the firm that made late season repairs last year, and negotiated an immediate repair effort for Van Ave. and elsewhere in