Snow in September? Council considers new ordinance

By on August 31, 2011

By: GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

Just days after Hurricane Irene caused a stir all around town, Lititz Borough Council voted to advertise a proposed new ordinance that would deal with snow removal within borough limits.

Tuesday’s vote does not enact the ordinance, but does take it to the next step of advertising it for public review prior to council voting on whether or not to adopt it. Council plans to take action on it at the end of this month.

If passed, property owners or occupants would have 24 hours following the end of a snowfall to clear a pathway five feet wide or face being cited by Lititz police. It would also be their responsibility to assure that snow and ice is prevented from falling from all buildings to adjacent public sidewalks. And in cases where the snow on the sidewalk has become so hard that it cannot be removed without the likelihood of damage to the sidewalk, proper abrasive material must be spread in order to make travel safe.

The ordinance would also require owners or occupants of corner properties where there exists a handicap ramp from the public sidewalk to the street, to remove the snow from the ramp at least three feet in width within the same 24 hour period while also maintaining it with proper abrasive materials as needed. In addition, it would be their responsibility to re-clear the access ramps in the event snow is pushed or plowed onto the ramp.

The ordinance also prohibits snow from being dumped, piled, plowed or pushed from any driveway, sidewalk or parking lot into any street or next to any fire hydrant or storm sewer.

Fines for exceeding the 24-hour time period would be a minimum of $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $300 for the third. Default in payment of such fines could lead to jail time, not to exceed 30 days. If, however, the district judge determines that the defendant is without the financial means to pay the fines and costs immediately or in a single remittance, then the defendant would be permitted to pay the fines and costs in installments over a period of time set by the judge. The same fines, and possible imprisonment, would also apply to those throwing snow and ice into the roadway.

This ordinance also prohibits the holding for private use public parking spaces with lawn chairs or any other movable items intended to block the use of those spaces. Violators would face fines of $25, $50 and $75, respectively, for each successive infraction, with the possibility of jail time if fines go unpaid.

"We’ve been working on this for the past year," said chairman of the Sub-Committee of Streets and Traffic Kevin Zartman.

In the course of that time, Zartman’s committee has been in consultation with borough manager Sue Ann Barry as well as Police Chief William Seace. The committee began by reviewing and adapting similar ordinances passed by other municipalities.

"This ordinance would still allow neighbors to create community piles of snow in a single parking space, but it cannot be thrown into the street," said council president Karen Weibel.

In addition to being advertised in local papers, more information on the proposed ordinance will be included in the upcoming borough sewer bills.

In other borough business, Carol Deem and Susan Tennant presented council with the annual report from the Lititz Public Library. Tennant was upbeat despite reporting that the library continues to be challenged since losing half of its state funding. She explained that staff and volunteers have worked hard to maintain excellent service in spite of the funding challenges.

"We’ve learned a lot about being very smart about how to use limited resources," said Tennant. "Perhaps there have been longer waits for best sellers or less speakers and performers, and overall less programming, but we have tried to be very creative and smart in how we work through this."

According to Tennant, one critical key to the library’s on-going success has been the 120-plus volunteers who regularly donate time to help out with everything from restocking shelves to straightening volumes. She also stressed how important the many partnerships with organizations throughout the community are to programming and as an alternative source of funding. That, coupled with book sales and the new annual jewelry sale, all work together to assure the library’s long term financial health and survival.

Deem, auxiliary president for the library board, also addressed council on the health of this public institution.

"We are certainly not just books anymore," said explained. "We are on the cutting edge of things and will continue to be so. We have lost a lot of (funding) over the past several years, yet the staff has somehow pinched the pennies to get the most out of them."

Both Tennant and Deem expressed their appreciation of the financial and moral support they continue to receive from the borough administration and council.

Tony Clair and Karen Mailen from the Lititz recCenter were also on hand to present their annual report.

"We have woo-hoo’d plenty of people throughout the year," said Mailen, referring to the renovation and expansion of the pool facilities. "Thanks to the borough and other municipal partners, such as the Warwick School District, this has been a very busy year."

Mailen indicated that the new water slides, water whale and zero entry pool have all become an amazing family fun center and place kids can come before and after school, as well as during summer vacation. And despite the ongoing economic downturn, she indicated that everything from summer camps to rec-sponsored playgrounds have boomed. In fact, both membership levels and utilization rates are also up from last year.

"It was a ‘build it and they will come’ type of scenario," she said. "We built it and membership is up 18 percent this year, with a record membership of 6,000. Corporate memberships are up by 15 percent. And there has been an increase in usage by 20 percent. The improvements have been very well received by the community."

Those improvements include a new pool, locker room, changing room and renovated main pool (which is now 22 years old). Mailen also credited the good working relationship and partnership with the school district in providing an excellent facility to the public. Recognizing that the recCenter is land locked, future expansion and improvement programs could be somewhat challenging. Yet, with the rec center already bursting at the seams, Mailen said that leaders have begun to work on strategies for the "what’s next" phase of the center’s decades-long history.

"This has been a remarkable success story," said Weibel. "We are very fortunate to have had so many generations of families support the rec. I’m glad to hear that you are already bursting at the seams."

Mailen acknowledged that already the center is experiencing parking challenges as a result of the growth.

Council member Doug Bomberger questioned Mailen on how the recCenter’s community utilization compared with industry standards. Mailen said that industry standards are 10 to 12 percent, but that Lititz community involvement in this recCenter is between 16 and 17 percent.

"We are pleased and proud that we are very visionary and already working on the next business and the next strategic plan," responded Mailen. More BOROUGH COUNCIL, page A16