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City Council Meeting Minutes

September 18, 2007

City Council convened in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 18, 2007, in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Toni Smith, Vickie Washington, Joseph R. Musso, Vice President, and Cameron Texter, President, with President Texter presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present. (Note: Councilman Smallwood present at 7:07 pm.)

Members of the Administration in attendance included: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, and Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner. Also present was Assistant Solicitor Shaleeta Washington. John Senft, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator, were absent. (Note: Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, and Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, present at 7:25 p.m.)

Members of York City Council staff in attendance included: Dianna L. Thompson, City Clerk.

A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Smith, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of September 4, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays - 0. (Note: Smallwood absent during the vote.)


A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Smith, to approve the August 8, 2007 Minutes, as amended. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Smith, Texter – 3; Nays – 0. (Note: Musso and Smallwood were absent during the vote.)


Committee Reports

Economic Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: President Texter relayed that Economic Development Director Matt Jackson has returned from an extended illness and is prepared to discuss Bill No. 25 (Click here to view Bill), a Bill establishing Article 1729 “Vacant Property Registration” of the Codified Ordinances to create guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the City of York and the payment of related fees. Vice President Musso said he would check available dates and will report back to Council.

Public Comment

Jameel Saahir, 231 Harding Court, York, PA, promoted his “Peace Keeper” movement. Mr. Saahir said peace keepers have to stand up and let people know who we are and what we’re about, which is a group of citizens banding together to help our police fight crime. Mr. Saahir encouraged residents to get involved in his movement.

Tim Page, 680 E. Princess St., York, PA, spoke about Spring Garden Township officials and their recent decision to cite a junkyard in its municipality with 30 violations. He said Spring Garden Township’s junkyard law is very similar to York’s and he wondered why city officials can’t or won’t do the same. Mr. Page challenged residents to drive through E. Princess St. and take a look at the unsightly junkyard operating in his neighborhood. Mr. Page opined that this junkyard is operating illegally but is being allowed to get away with violations because they financially support the campaigns of many of York’s public officials. Mr. Page stated that the City of York is made up of a bunch of corrupt officials and warned surrounding municipalities who want to do business with the city to have the city investigated before any deals are made.

Stephanie Seaton, Director, York City Human Relations Commission, invited the public to attend a prayer vigil on the front steps of City Hall on September 19 at 6:00 p.m. to take a stand against the violence in our communities. The Prayer Vigil will be an opportunity to pray for the community, education system, families and community leaders. Ms. Seaton thanked the Mayor and Council for its support on this initiative.

Franklin Williams, 528 W. Market St., York, PA, said he was troubled that the “impoundment” provision was removed from the new Noise Ordinance. (Click here to view the Noise Ordinance). Mr. Williams said if he doesn’t like what someone is wearing, he can just simply turn his head. However, such is not the case when forced to listen to someone’s loud music because we certainly can’t turn off our ears. There is a struggle between consideration and inconsideration, he said, and people should understand that not all people enjoy the same music nor do all people enjoy loud music. Mr. Williams stated that he wishes the impoundment provision would have remained in the ordinance because he feels this kind of leverage gives the ordinance more teeth.

Next, Vice President Musso brought up discussion about the stealing of copper pipes from a property, which was recently reported on the news. He asked how an individual is able to steal copper pipes then walk into a junkyard and sell them for cash without red flags being hoisted in ones mind as to where this individual got these pipes. Vice President Musso asked what laws, if any, are being used to deal with this type of theft. Commissioner Whitman said there are laws used to deal with theft, however, he said he can’t answer what goes through the mind of those purchasing stolen property. It could be the purchase doesn’t know or doesn’t care its stolen.

Legislative Agenda

Final Passage of Bill No. 29, Ordinance No. 29, Session 2007, A Bill vacating a portion of Newberry Street in the 8th Ward, Map 5, Block 188 of the City of York, running between Springettsbury Ave., and York College of PA’s main campus parking lot beginning approximately 200 ft. in length and 60 ft. in width, which was introduced by Musso at the August 8 meeting of Council, and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Musso, seconded by Washington, Bill No. 29 came up for discussion.

President Texter explained that in accordance with Section 2916 of the 3rd Class City Code, street vacations must sit for at least 28 days prior to consideration of passage. As 28 days have elapsed from introduction, this Bill is being considered for final passage this evening.

Mr. Ken Martin, York College, and Mr. Tom Connelly, LSC Design, were both present to answer questions. As Council had no questions, and there was no further discussion, Bill No. 29, Ordinance No. 29 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Final Passage of Bill No. 32, Ordinance No. 30, Session 2007, A Bill amending Article 951 “Municipal Solid Waste Management Act” of the Codified Ordinances to update language and make it more consistent with current laws and regulations, which was introduced by Washington at the September 4 meeting of Council, read by short title, and discussed, came up for final passage. On motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Bill No. 32, Ordinance No. 30, Session 2007, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. (Click here to read discussion on Bill No. 32)(Click here to view Bill No. 32)

Final Passage of Bill No. 33, Ordinance No. 31, Session 2007, A Bill amending Article 952 “Waste Minimization and Recycling” of the Codified Ordinances to update language and make it more consistent with current laws and regulations, which was introduced by Washington at the September 4 meeting of Council, read by short title, and discussed, came up for final passage. On motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Bill No. 33, Ordinance No. 31, Session 2007, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. (Click here to view discussion on Bill No. 33) (Click here to view Bill No. 33)

Final Passage of Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 32, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Budget for the Department of Public Works for the East Prospect Street Streetscape and Renaissance Park Projects as costs exceeded budgeted amounts and the YWCA has or will secure additional private contributions in the amount of $90,000 toward these projects, was introduced at the September 4 meeting of Council, read by short title, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Bill No. 34, Ordinance No. 32, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Final Passage of Bill No. 35, Ordinance No. 33, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 Capital Project Fund Budget for the Parking Bureau, the Police Department and the Fire Department to appropriate expenditures to cover the purchase of several vehicles, was introduced by Texter at the September 4 meeting of Council, read by short title, and on motion of Smallwood, seconded by Washington, Bill no. 35, Ordinance No. 33, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 129, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing an agreement with Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed) for the installation and/or maintenance for conversion of two (2) company owned, 175-watt mercury vapor streetlights to 100-watt, high pressure sodium vapor streetlights, and of one (1) company owned, 400-watt, high pressure sodium vapor streetlight, and the new installation of one (1) company owned, 150-watt, high pressure sodium vapor streetlight at the locations of 199 Ebberts Lane, 239 S. Pine St., 925 S. George St., and 39 N. Penn St. (rear), was introduced by Washington, read at length, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 129 came up for discussion.

Director Gross explained that the rear of 39 N. Penn St. would be receiving new installation at the request of residents who petitioned the city for said light. The 199 Ebberts Lane and 925 S. George St. locations would be simple maintenance upgrades. Director Gross then explained the process for requesting new streetlights. Please contact the Department of Public Works at (717) 849-2245 for information.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 129 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 130, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing a right-of-way agreement with Columbia to grant permission to install a pipeline and service to the YMCA Farquhar Park Pool site, was introduced by Washington, read at length, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 130 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. President Texter said this gas line service is related to the Farquhar Park Pool renovation project being undertaken by the YMCA.

Resolution No. 131, Session 2007, A Resolution awarding a contract to Kinsley Construction, Inc. in the amount of $152,333.50 for the 2007 East Philadelphia St. Streetscape Project, was introduced by Washington, read at length, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 131 came up for discussion.

Director Gross said this project would cover the block of Philadelphia St. between Duke and George Streets. Unfortunately, he said the project had to be reduced because we received less money than anticipated. The project will include installation of new curbs and sidewalks and new streetlights similar to the ones installed at the York County Judicial Center located on the corner of George and Philadelphia Streets.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 131 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 132, Session 2007, A Resolution appointing Jacqueline Anita Martino and reappointing Carmen Bones to the Albert S. Weyer Community Health Fund Advisory Committee to both serve until September 30, 2010, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 132 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0. (Click here to read more about the Albert S. Weyer Committee)

Consent Agenda. A motion was made by Texter, seconded by Smallwood, to consider Resolution No.’s 133 and 134 as a whole. The motion passed unanimously. Therefore, the following Resolutions were introduced by Texter and read at length:

Resolution No. 133, Session 2007, A Resolution exonerating municipal real estate taxes and sewer and refuse liens for the property known as 315 South Queen Street, York, PA, as this property is dilapidated, cluttered with debris, and is overall in poor condition and the York City Redevelopment Authority (RDA) is working to purchase said property for the propose of rehabilitating it into a single-family, tax generating property.

Resolution No. 134, Session 2007, A Resolution exonerating municipal real estate taxes and sewer and refuse liens for the properties known as 41, 43, 45 & 47 North Newberry Street, York, PA as these properties are dilapidated, cluttered with debris, and are overall in poor condition and the York City Redevelopment Authority (RDA) and the York Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) are working collaboratively to purchase said properties for the propose of rehabilitating them into viable, tax generating properties.

On motion of Texter, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No.’s 133 & 134 came up for discussion.

Economic Development Director Matt Jackson explained that the property owner of 315 S. Queen St. has offered to deed over this property to the RDA for the purpose of rehabilitation. He said the RDA will insist upon turning this property into a single-family residence. The N. Newberry St. properties are also slated to become single-family residences. He said the RDA and the YMCA are working collaborative on the Newberry Street properties to leverage the Arts District offering live-above properties. Director Jackson went on to explain that the Newberry St. properties were rentals with one property, 45 N. Newberry St., having a dozen people living in it. He said the owner was not paying sewer and refuse for whatever reason but is now prepared to sell the property.

Councilwoman Smith asked if the school and county have already exonerated taxes on these properties. Director Jackson said the RDA and YMCA would also be seeking exoneration from those entities. Worst case scenario, he said, would be that the exonerations won’t be approved and the RDA would have to negotiate some sort of back tax payment plan with the new or previous owners.

President Texter asked why wouldn’t the city want to consider a payment plan for these delinquencies. Director Jackson said the cost of labor, job creation, and viable tax generating properties all weigh-in on a balancing act of finances. When considering the long-term benefit to the city, exonerating these delinquencies is a small sacrifice for this very worthwhile project.

Vice President Musso said he’s not sure allowing the previous owner to sell his property with delinquencies is a good incentive to pay taxes and sewer and refuse liens. He said once we purchase these properties, the money will go into the sellers hand and he’ll walk away with cash and will have gotten away with not paying back taxes and sewer and refuse liens.

Director Jackson said we could either continue to allow these blighted properties to sit with significant liens, or we could opt to cut our losses, rebuild, and place newly, rehabilitated properties back on the tax rolls thereby eliminating blight and creating tax revenue at the same time.

A discussion ensued on the process of exonerating properties, the benefits of rehabilitation, and marketing strategies.

Councilman Smallwood stated that these properties in their current state are an eyesore to the neighborhood, is creating a negative affect, and serves as a bad influence to the community. He agrees with Director Jackson that the sacrifice of exonerating delinquencies is well worth it when considering the outcome.

(Note: Director Jackson later provided the following information via email: Back taxes and sewer/refuse fees for 41, 43, 45, and 47 North Newberry Street are as follows: $2,241.52 in back taxes, of which $872 in back taxes are city and county taxes combined, and $9,717.63 in back sewer and refuse fees.)

There being no further discussion, Resolution No.’s 133 & 134 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 135, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Bureau of Permits, Planning and Zoning in the amount of $40,000 to cover attorneys fees and other professional services, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smallwood, Resolution No. 135 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 136, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing a Certificate of Appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications filed by Brandon Hershey, McDonald’s, for work to be done at 142 S. George St., Tyrica Hendricks for work to be done at 328 E. Princess St., Bill Zuck, Dorgan & Zuck Contractors, for work to be done at 332 E. Princess St., and Clayton Shenk, Tidings of Peace, for work to be done at 318 & 329 E. Poplar St., was introduced by Smallwood, read at length, and on motion of Smallwood, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 136 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Smallwood, Texter – 5; Nays – 0.

Requests for Future Meetings

Economic Development Committee, Joseph R. Musso, Chair: Meeting to be scheduled to discuss Bill No. 25 (Click here to view Bill), a Bill establishing Article 1729 “Vacant Property Registration” of the Codified Ordinances to create guidelines for the registration of vacant properties in the City of York and the payment of related fees. Vice President Musso said he would like to keep committee meetings to a minimum for the next several months so that Council can concentrate on the budget.

Council Comment

President Texter made several announcements including information about the audit and read several news releases prepared by the Mayor.

Next Meeting: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

Adjournment: There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:24 p.m.