HARVEYS LAKE — Against the advice of the borough engineer, council members Tuesday agreed to give a stormwater management contract to the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater mandate requires all municipalities to reduce the amount of sediment deposited into the Susquehanna River and other waterways that feed into the Chesapeake Bay. The state Department of Environmental Protection requires towns that drain water into the Susquehanna to submit stormwater permit plans showing how they will reduce sediment.
To reach this goal, the WVSA and the Dallas Area Municipal Authority began working on individual stormwater management plans to offer contracted services to area municipalities.
“We have heard presentations from both (WVSA and DAMA),” Councilman Chad Flack said. “My personal opinion — I like WVSA because they have more boroughs going along to spread the cost over.”
However, Harveys Lake is already ahead of schedule in meeting the new regulations, Councilwoman Michell’e Boice said.
She said stormwater and sewer flows are already separate, which was a requirement, and numerous stormwater basins were installed around the lake to filter out sediment by Princeton Hydro, an environmental engineering firm.
“Harveys Lake Borough is good until January 2020,” Boice said. “We do not have to make a decision on this right now.”
“Not only that, but our borough engineer advises us not to do anything until six months before our deadline of 2020,” Councilman Thomas Kehler said.
Nearly 30 residents attended the meeting but held back from voicing their opposition because council gave the impression it was just gathering information.
“I hope you will share this information with the community before any voting does take place,” resident Jack Davis said during the public comment period of the meeting.
“We should have a town hall meeting when some more solid information is available,” Boice said.
The contract, if approved, would result in an added fee, an estimated $60 per household per year; residents should have some input on it, Boice said.
“I would probably have questions, but from what I am hearing we are still gathering information. I will hold my reservations,” Davis said.
“I don’t know if it will come up for a vote tonight,” Boice said.
Later, Council Vice President Daniel F. Blaine read a letter from WVSA stating the new stormwater regulations are an “unfunded mandate” to ensure sediment entering the Susquehanna is reduced by 10 percent, phosphorus by 5 percent and nitrogen by 3 percent over the next five years. The program would carry a fee that could range from $3 to $4.50 per home, per month, Blaine said.
Council President Clarence Hogan made a motion to approve WVSA as the borough’s MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) program manager, which was met with audience shock and opposition.
“It is not on the agenda,” one resident yelled out and held up a copy of the meeting itinerary.
A 3-3 vote was broken by Mayor Carole Samson, and the motion passed. Blaine, Hogan and Flack supported the vote. Boice, Kehler and Councilman Ed Kelly voted against it.
“It (stormwater management) was paid for before — now we have to pay a tax,” resident Brad Nelsson said after the meeting.
In other news …
Borough Zoning Officer Maureen Oremus had her work hours reinstated from 12 hours to 16 to 20 per week.
Oremus’ hours were reduced when the council reinstated her as zoning officer on Jan. 16.
On Jan. 2, the council majority voted to replace the zoning officer position with services offered by local firm Barry Isett & Associates. Residents’ opposition caused the council to revisit and reverse the decision.
Tuesday, Boice made a motion to restore Oremus’ former hours.
“I like to make a motion that we reinstate the hours to 16 to 20 hours per week for the zoning officer so that she can serve the residents of our community the way she always did and not have to take shortcuts and not be available,” Boice said.
Boice, Kelly, Kehler supported the motion. Blaine and Hogan voted against it. Flack abstained.
Oremus also asked the council to reconsider a prior decision preventing her from taking a zoning class on codes for seasonal recreational structures that would cover dwelling units, docks, decks and swimming pools.
In January, she asked Council Member Wade Post, her liaison with the board, about taking the class.
“He told me he was all for it, that everything was great,” Oremus said. “Then I was told by Susan (Sutton, borough secretary) that a no vote was taken. I asked other council members who said a no vote was taken. Isn’t that a violation of the Sunshine Law?”
“I would like to take this class. It is in Wilkes-Barre. It is very applicable to the goings on at the lake and it is next Tuesday,” she said.
Kehler made the motion to send Oremus to the class.
“It is tailor-made for Harveys Lake. I is perfect for the zoning officer; it is about decks and docks, ” he said. “It is about everything that we need to know out here, and it is only to help the people out here at Harveys Lake.”
The motion passed with a 3-2 vote. Boice, Kehler and Kelly approved the motion. Blaine and Hogan voted against it. Flack abstained.
The following events will be held in the borough:
• The Harveys Lake Easter Egg Hunt, 11 a.m. on March 31 at Lake-Noxen Elementary School.
• Community Appreciation Buffet Dinner and Dance, from 6 to 10 p.m. April 28 at the Harveys Lake American Legion Post 967. Space is limited. Registration is required; call 570-760-8370 by April 15.
• Lakefest, Aug. 3-5 at the Harveys Lake Beach Club, Pole 187. For information, call Mike Rush, chairman of the Harvey Lake Recreational Committee at 570-650-1844.
The next borough council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. April 18 in the municipal building.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.