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City Council Meeting Minutes

October 2, 2007

City Council convened in Regular Session at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2, 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. Councilman Wm. Lee Smallwood was absent as he’s vacationing out-of-state. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

The following Members of the Administration were absent: Jim Gross, Director of Public Works, Kim Bracey, Director of Community Development, Matt Jackson, Director of Economic Development, Mark Whitman, Police Commissioner, John Senft, Fire Chief, and Michael O’Rourke, Business Administrator. Assistant Solicitor Don Hoyt was present.

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 18, 2007, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays - 0.

Public Comment

Tim Page, 680 E. Princess St., York, PA, said he bought a commercial property a few years ago and is in the process of renovating it. He stated he puts a lot of sweat equity into improving his property but hasn’t done much with the property lately because he feels city officials mistreat property owners. Mr. Page reported, as he has on numerous occasions, alleged violations by a junkyard operating in his neighborhood. Mr. Page feels this junkyard is being allowed to break the law because the owner contributes to the political campaigns of our corrupt public officials. He stated that the toxins being spewed into the air by this junkyard are poisoning residents.

Jameel Saahir, 231 Harding Court, York, PA, questioned why he hasn’t received any phone calls responding to the nearly 500 letters he sent out to residents asking for support of his “Peacekeeper” initiative. Mr. Saahir said he is working on establishing a new initiative to teach self-defense to senior citizens. The class would target seniors, aged 55 and older, who have been victims of crime. Mr. Saahir challenged the community to resolve to make a change to improve our community.

Mike Helfrich, 23 S. George St., York, PA, thanked residents, city officials, and city employees for their help with the Willis Run Clean-up. He said in addition to cleaning up the area, they planted several plants and installed an in-stream structure. Next, Mr. Helfrich asked about the status of DEP’s promise to hold a public hearing on the re-approval of a comprehensive General Permit Renewal Application for processing and the subsequent re-use of Treated Ash Aggregate submitted by American Ash Recycling Corporation of Pennsylvania (AAR-PA).

President Texter responded that as a follow up to Council’s request for a public hearing (click here to view request letter), he has contacted DEP on a weekly basis and has conferred several times with Lyn Langer about the status of the public hearing. He said DEP is promising to extend its public comment period and that they definitely intend to hold a public hearing to discuss the matter. President Texter then outlined in detail his contacts and conversations with members of DEP regarding this issue. He said he is disappointed that DEP hasn’t scheduled a hearing yet but would take their word that the public comment period would be extended and a public hearing would be held. President Texter did say a representative from DEP stated that Council could act on its Resolution (Resolution No. 107 – click here to view) opposing AAR’s General Permit Renewal Application before the DEP hearing is set.

Mr. Helfrich said DEP has allowed AAR to operate in violation of environmental standards for many years and feels they would have continued to allow these violations if it wasn’t for the public’s outcry. Mr. Helfrich said the Federal Department of Health and Human Services is working with the state Department of Health to determine if a full public health investigation of AAR’s treated ash aggregate is warranted.

Charlotte Bergdoll, Cherry Lane Realty, 515 W. Market St., York, PA, discussed her suggestions to launch a grievance system to file, track, and respond to citizen complaints. She said if a separate system was in place, residents could report their concerns using this mechanism instead of coming to Council. As it stands now, she said, once a citizen files a complaint, there is no follow-up and the citizen has no idea whether the complaint was investigated or the outcome. Ms. Bergdoll gave a scenario about a citizen who files a complaint against a police officer and the citizen never hearing about the outcome. President Texter outlined the city’s current complaint systems in place, such as contacting departments directly, or calling the Mayor’s office and/or Mayor’s hotline to report incidents and/or file complaints. He did say because of labor laws and confidentiality, protections are put in place for workers, which may be why some citizens may not receive follow-up on actions taken, if any. President Texter explained that the Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of the city and as such, these types of complaints fall under the Mayor’s purview. However, he did say follow-up to complaints could include, at the very least, general information.

Committee Reports: None

Supplemental Agenda

A motion was made by Washington, seconded by Musso to waive the provisions of Resolution No. 215 of Session 1969 to permit consideration of a supplemental agenda containing two Resolutions. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 137, Session 2007, A Resolution proclaiming October 2007 as “Diversity Month” in the City of York, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 137 came up for discussion.

Stephanie Seaton, Director of the York City Human Relations Commission, was onboard and thanked Council for considering this Resolution as a supplemental agenda item. Director Seaton said she couldn’t let October go by without formalizing this month as Diversity Month in the City of York. She said she challenges the community to embrace diversity not only this month but year-round. Director Seaton stated that we are a diverse people who recognize that we are all members of the human race and that our diversity is reason for celebration and appreciation, giving us all an opportunity to examine the similarities and differences of those around us. In keeping with this understanding, she announced the 26th Annual Dr. Frederick D. Holliday Memorial Celebration that will be showcasing issues surrounding civil rights and Building Inclusive Schools. The Celebration will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 23 at the Yorktowne Hotel, 48 E. Market St., York, PA and tickets are $40. For more information, please contact Director Seaton at (717) 846-2926, Fax: (717) 845-4853, or email at sseaton@yorkcity.org, weekdays between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 137 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 138, Session 2007, A Resolution appointing Joseph J. Stein as a member of the York City Planning Commission to fill the unexpired term of Carol Hill-Evans, which term shall expire January 1, 2009, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 138 came up for discussion.

Councilpersons Texter, Musso, and Smith spoke kind words about Mr. Stein each saying they have known him for several years and feel that he would be a positive addition to the Planning Commission.

Mr. Stein thanked the Mayor and Council for considering his appointment and that he looks forward to serving the City of York.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 138 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

The City Clerk then administered the Oath of Office to Mr. Stein.

Legislative Agenda

Introduction of Bill No. 36, Session 2007, A Bill amending the 2007 CDBG Budget to reflect changes resulting from an amendment to the 2007 Annual Action Plan (affecting the Literacy Council, Spanish American Center, and the Wellington Youth Program), was introduced by Musso, read by short title, and deferred until the October 16 meeting of Council.

President Texter briefly outlined the amendments in that the Literacy Council would receive an additional $8,000; the Spanish American Center would lose funding ($35,000); and the Wellington Youth Program would receive $12,000. President Texter said Director Bracey plans to attend the October 16 meeting to answer questions.

Councilwoman Washington asked that Director Bracey be prepared to answer why the Spanish American Center’s funding is being completely eliminated.

Resolution No. 139, Session 2007, A Resolution appointing Kyle J. Pitts as a probationary police officer for a probationary period of one year effective October 16, 2007, was introduced by Texter, read at length, and on motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 139 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 140, Session 2007, A Resolution authorizing an agreement with the Family Health Council of Central PA to extend the agreement set forth by the PA Dept. of Health for the City to conduct specific tobacco control program activities for county residents in the amount of $262,332 for the period of October 1, 2007 through March 30, 2008 to be paid out of the state health grant #10070, was introduced by Musso, read at length, and on motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 140 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 141, Session 2007, A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing certificates of appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications filed by Frankie & Norma Santiago for work to be done at 232 Prospect St.; Jane Heller for work to be done at 17-19 S. Pine St.; Vincent Reinoso for work to be done at 43 N. Penn St.; and Gary Geiselman, Olde York Homes, for work to be done at 225 E. market St., was introduced by Washington, read at length, and on motion of Washington, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 141 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Washington, Musso, Smith, Texter – 4; Nays – 0.

Requests for Future Meetings: None

Council Comment:

President Texter brought up earlier discussion about Resolution No. 107 (click here to view Resolution) opposing AAR’s General Permit Renewal Application. He asked if Council would like to act on the Resolution prior to DEP’s public hearing. After discussion, Council opted to act on Resolution No. 107 after DEP’s public hearing.

Councilman Musso announced that he, School Board President Jeffrey Kirkland, Marjorie B. Wiltshire, President of Parent Advocates for Children (PAC), Brandon Walker, a junior at William Penn High School, and others, will hold a Press Conference to announce the “Education First Parade and Rally”. The Press Conference will take place on Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 10 a.m. outside William Penn Senior High School, 101 W. College Ave. (College Avenue side). They will announce the details of the Education First Parade and Rally. The Rally will be held on Saturday, October 6 at 11 a.m. The parade begins at Penn Park, directly across from William Penn Senior High School, located at 101 W. College Ave., and proceeds to Small’s Athletic Field off of North George Street where a rally will be held. The theme for this year’s program is Freedom to Choose: Education First, which emphasizes the value of our inalienable right to a free education. The public is invited.

Councilwoman Washington announced the Gang and Youth Awareness Conference to be held October 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at William Penn Senior High School, 101 W. College Ave., York, PA (Pershing Ave. side). (Click here to view brochure)

Administration Comment: None

Next Meeting: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, October 16, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA 17401.

Adjournment: There being no further business, the October 2, 2007 meeting of Council adjourned at 8:00 .m.