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City Council Meeting Minutes

October 7, 2008

CALL TO ORDER: City Council convened in a General Committee meeting on October 7, 2008 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, to receive general public comment, with the following Council members present: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

GENERAL PUBLIC COMMENT

Franklin Williams, 528 W. Market St., York, PA, discussed his opposition to the “We Buy All Real Estate” signs being posted throughout the city by an unnamed business. Next, Mr. Williams questioned the “no left turn” signs located at the intersections of Philadelphia St. & Ridge Ave. and Carlisle & Florida Aves. Lastly, he directed attention to the median strip located down the middle of E. Philadelphia St. that he said needs attention because it’s full of nothing but tall grass.

William Bolt, 1016 S. Pine St., York, PA, spoke about concerns he has related to the new Reid Menzer Memorial Skate Park. He said the kids are not only skateboarding at the park, they are also skateboarding in the neighborhood and getting into fights.

Kim Bolt, 1016 S. Pine St., York, PA, discussed the proposed Nuisance Abatement ordinance and feels its time to move forward with the legislation.

Charlotte Bergdoll, 515 W. Market St., York, PA, reported that she believes residents at 505 W. Market St. are housing ducks and chickens, which is a violation of the animal ordinance and asked that this be investigated. She then suggested a traffic light be installed at the intersection of Roosevelt and Linden Aves. to better assist motorists merging onto Roosevelt Ave. Lastly, Ms. Bergdoll reported cars being broken into while parked in the YMCA parking lot and would like this information relayed to the police department.

There being no further public comment, President Musso adjourned the General Committee meeting and reconvened in Legislative Session at 7:00 p.m., in Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA, with the following members present: Genevieve Ray, Cameron Texter, Toni Smith, Carol Hill-Evans, Vice President, and Joseph R. Musso, President, with President Musso presiding. Mayor John Brenner was not present.

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

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

Pledge of Allegiance: The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Approval of Minutes: A motion was made by Smith seconded by Hill-Evans, to dispense with the reading of the Minutes of September 16, 2008, and approve them as written. The motion passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Smith, Musso – 4; Nays – 0. Abstained – Texter – 1.

Correspondence and Announcements: President Musso read correspondence and announcements.

PRESENTATIONS: None

COMMITTEE MEETINGS SCHEDULED: None

COMMITTEE REPORTS: None

SUBDIVISION / LAND DEVELOPMENT / HARB

Resolution No. 148, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution accepting the recommendations of HARB in issuing certificates of appropriateness for work to be covered in the applications filed by Shinnel Daniels for work to be done at 507 Cooper Place; Steve Reynolds for work to be done at 257-259 E. Market St.; Vicki & Evan Forrester for work to be done at 359 E. Market St.; and Jose Mora for work to be done at 350 E. Princess St., was introduced by Hill-Evans, read at length, and on motion of Hill-Evans, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 148 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Consent Agenda: A motion was made by Texter, seconded by Smith, to introduce Resolution No.’s 149 & 150 as a consent agenda. The motion passed unanimously.

Resolution No. 149, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving the preliminary/final reverse subdivision plan submitted by Glory House Ministries to combine 3 parcels of land located at 40 Jefferson Ave., was introduced by Ray, and read at length.

Resolution No. 150, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving the preliminary/final land development plan submitted by Glory House Ministries to construct a new parking lot at 40 Jefferson Ave., was introduced by Ray, and read at length.

On motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No.’s 149-150 came up for discussion.

Grant Anderson, Gordon Brown & Associates, was onboard and explained the project. He said Glory House Ministries is proposing to combine parcels and construct a new parking lot at 40 Jefferson Ave. There are a few waivers being requested with two of the requests being (1) a waiver of the preliminary plan and allow submission of a final plan, and (2) a waiver from requiring the names of all adjacent property owners to be listed on the plans. Mr. Anderson said the project area is very small, which is why they are requesting the name waiver. The Planning Commission has approved their waiver requests. Mr. Anderson answered a few project questions from Council.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No.’s 149 & 150 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 151, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving the preliminary/final land development plan submitted by Kansagra Real Estate Group, LLC to redevelop a vacant commercial building located at 30 S. Howard St. into residential condominiums, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Hill-Evans, Resolution No. 151 came up for discussion.

Robert Mock, SAAarchitects, and John Hersch, Site Design Concepts, were onboard and explained the project. Mr. Hersch said the project will take place on the corner of Mason Ave. & Howard St. Development plans include converting a commercial building into 13 condos with a partial 4th floor addition. He said the project is geared to attract single, young professionals, as these condos will boast one and two bedrooms, which may not be adequate for family occupancy. Mr. Mock and Mr. Hersch answered a few project questions from Council.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 151 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 152, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution releasing an M&T Bank irrevocable standby letter of credit in the amount of $112,266 to M&G Realty, Inc. as related to the land development plan submitted by M&G Realty, Inc. for construction of the new Rutters Farm Store located at 1520 Pennsylvania Ave., was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 152 came up for discussion.

President Musso explained that M&G Realty provided the city with a letter of credit in the amount of $112,266 to secure required improvements to the land development plans associated with the new Rutters Farm Store located at 1520 Pennsylvania Ave. Construction of the facility was completed on August 20th and the city engineer released a letter indicating all required work associated with this project had been completed and approved. Therefore, the city is now releasing the M&T letter of credit in its entirety to M&G Realty.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 152 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

CONSENT AGENDA

Introduction of Bill No. 45, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget to appropriate matching funds in the amount of $3,000 for a PA Liquor Control Board Grant, was introduced by Texter, read by short title, and deferred until the October 21st meeting of Council.

Introduction of Bill No. 46, Session, 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Annual Action Plan to reflect changes resulting from unallocated CDBG funds and an actual HOME funding award, was introduced by Ray, read by short title, and deferred until the October 21st meeting of Council.

FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS / RESOLUTIONS

Final Passage of Bill No. 40, Ordinance No. 40, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending Article 1751 “Nuisance Abatement” to update language to, in part, grant powers to enforce said Article to the Police Commissioner, update citations of law, establish “Transfer of Ownership”, “Board of Appeals” and “Agreement” clauses, and to clarify methods of service and notice requirements, which was introduced by Texter at the August 19th meeting of Council and referred to the Police Committee (mtg. held 8/26/08 at 7p.m.), came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 40 came up for discussion.

Motion to amend. Councilman Texter made a motion to amend Bill No. 40. The motion was seconded by Smith. Therefore, the following Resolution was introduced:

Resolution No. 153, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution amending Bill No. 40 to change from 5 days to 15 days that a property owner has to make a reconsideration request regarding points assesses for Nuisance Abatement violations, was introduced by Texter, and read by short title. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 153 came up for discussion.

Councilman Texter explained that this amendment would regulate that upon the initial assessment of points, a property owner may, within fifteen (15) business days of receiving notice of such points, make a written request to the Police Commissioner for the City to reconsider the imposition of points. If the initial assessment of points were for a combination of criminal and building, housing, plumbing, fire or other related codes violations, the Police Commissioner may consult with either the Building Official, Building Code Official and/or the Fire Chief when reconsidering the imposition of points. The City shall, within thirty (30) days, issue a written decision as to whether the assessment of points was merited or whether the property owner has taken reasonable and available actions as to necessitate the removal of the points. No reconsideration of points shall occur after the initial assessment of points.

Charlotte Bergdoll, 515 W. Market St., York, PA, said the law does not clearly establish the city’s obligation to notify property owners when points are assessed and she feels that specific language should be incorporated into the legislation establishing a time frame. Commissioner Whitman responded that regardless of when the notice is sent, property owners have 15 days from receipt of the notice to request an appeal. In turn, the city has 30 days to render its decision on said appeal.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 153 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Motion to amend. Councilwoman Ray made a motion to further amend Resolution No. 153, which was seconded by Musso. Therefore, the following Resolution was introduced:

Resolution No. 154, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution amending Bill No. 40 to make the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals responsible for reconsidering the imposition of points and adding a public notice requirement, was introduced by Ray, and read by short title. On motion of Ray, seconded by Musso, Resolution No. 154 came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Ray explained that this amendment would regulate that the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals shall, within thirty (30) days, issue a written decision as to whether the assessment of points was merited or whether the property owner has taken reasonable and available actions as to necessitate the removal of the points. In making its determination, the Board of Appeals will consult with the Police Commissioner, the property owner, and such other City officials as are relevant to the case (e.g. Building Official, Building Code Official and/or Fire Chief, if the initial assessment of points involved alleged building, housing, plumbing, fire or other related codes violations). No reconsideration of points shall occur after the written decision of the Board of Appeals.

Additionally, she explained that this amendment would require the Police Commissioner to maintain on the City website and/or in written form, available for public view, a current list of all properties against which points have been assessed, the dates that points were assessed, the number of points against the property, an indication of points that are under review for reconsideration or under appeal to the Board of Appeals, and the appropriate office to contact for detailed information on the alleged violations.

Vice President Hill-Evans asked if the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals was able to meet at-will.

Kim Bolt, Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals member, responded that the Board would be bogged down with meeting after meeting if they were to accommodate every single appeal. She said they do not have the time or the resources to deal with that.

Commissioner Whitman stated that we don’t assess points until there is an enforcement action that puts the owner and/or tenant on notice. We could put information on the web to make available for people to research and track points. He said to grant appeals to each and every violator for each point assessed would be cumbersome to the Board.

A lengthy discussion ensued on when a building can be shut down, due process of law, and the use of “shall” verses “may” with regard to the Police Commissioner’s powers.

President Musso explained that the Police Commissioner would not be able to erroneously shut down buildings. There is a process involved when points are assessed which, in part, grants ample time for violators to fix the problem and/or, after an accumulation of 12-18 points, grants an appeal process.

Vice President Hill-Evans said with regard to powers granted to the Police Commissioner, the issue of “may” or “shall” shut down a building is still clouded. Councilman Texter responded that no building is automatically shut down. An appeal process must be met and consideration given to whether the proper action should be to shut a building down. It won’t just happen automatically, he reiterated.

Gina Dwyer, York, PA, questioned the notification process and felt the city’s obligation to notify a property owner of a violation was insufficient.

Joanne Borders, York, PA, said we need some kind of law in place to deal with nuisance properties. She supports this legislation and agrees that there should be a public mechanism available to allow property owners to research violations and points on their property.

Kim Moyer, Realtor’s Association, stated that RAYAC supports the inclusion of the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals in this legislation as proposed by Councilwoman Ray. Additionally, RAYAC would like to see full disclosure of properties with points made available on the website as a means to notify buyers, sellers, and realtors.

William Bolt, 1016 S. Pine St., York, PA, said residents that live next to nuisance properties don’t have an appeal process and something needs to be done to protect them.

Phil DeRosa, Spry, PA, said he’s concerned that his property might be assessed points for a drug deal that takes place in front of his property. He said it is unfair to make him accountable for something that is out of his control. He said as a property owner, he might be afraid to call the police if he sees a drug deal going down because he’s afraid he might be assessed points for someone else’s bad behavior. Mr. DeRosa said he can’t baby-sit all of his properties, as that would be a full-time job. Property owners need incentives as law-abiding citizens, not barriers. With regard to notices, he asked what happens when he and his family go on vacation for several weeks only to return to find that they were charged points and the appeal period has elapsed. What happens then, he asked. This is not fair, he said.

Charlotte Berdoll, 515 W. Market St., York, PA, stated that we are not our tenant’s parents and we shouldn’t have to be responsible for their misgivings. She said she provided Council members with a letter from Attorney Blake and hopes Council will consider those recommendations.

A debate and discussion ensued between Council, residents, and landlords speaking for and against the enforcement and notification processes associated with this legislation, as well as the intent of the legislation.

Motion to amend. After hearing debate and discussion, Councilman Texter made a motion to amend Resolution No. 154 by striking paragraph (d) regarding the Nuisance Abatement Board of Appeals and 15-day appeal process in its entirety but keep the requirement of the Police Commissioner to maintain on the website a current list of properties in which points have been assessed (this paragraph will now be “d”). The motion to amend was seconded by Smith and passed by the following vote: Yeas – Texter, Smith, Musso – 3; Nays – Ray, Hill-Evans – 2. (Note: This amendment voids out paragraph “d” in Resolution No. 154, however, paragraph “d” in Resolution No. 153 remains in effect.)

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 154, as amended, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Councilwoman Ray said she will vote “no” to this legislation because she feels there are flaws in this ordinance and that it is challengeable in a court of law. She did, however, thank all those involved in entertaining discussion on this legislation.

Vice President Hill-Evans reminded residents that this is not a “landlords” bill and that this legislation is for all property owners’ not just landlords.

Councilman Texter said the city is not trying to be irresponsible with enacting this legislation. This is very responsible legislation and there is no intent to shut down buildings willy-nilly, he explained.

Councilwoman Smith stated that its time to help relieve the burden to our upstanding property owners and make violators accountable.

President Musso said we expect home owners will be treated fairly and with respect and that the intent of this legislation is met.

There being no further discussion, Bill No. 40, Ordinance No. 40, as amended by Resolution No. 154, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 4; Nays – Ray – 1.

Final Passage of Bill No. 43, Ordinance No. 41, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending the 2008 Budget for Public Works to appropriate additional expenditures in the amount of $95,000 to cover gas & diesel fuel expenses, which was introduced by Smith at the September 16 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 43, Ordinance No. 41, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 0.

Final Passage of Bill No. 44, Ordinance No. 42, Session 2008, (View) A Bill amending Article 951 “Municipal Solid Waste Management Act” of the Codified Ordinances to include the definition of “leaf waste”, which was introduced by Smith at the September 16 meeting of Council and read by short title, came up for final passage. On motion of Texter, seconded by Smith, Bill No. 44, Ordinance No. 42, passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 0.

Resolution No. 142, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution establishing a list of fees in accordance with Article 1729 “Vacant Property Registration” of the York City Codified Ordinances, which was introduced by Musso at the September 16 meeting of Council and read at length, came up for final passage. On motion of Musso, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 142 came up for discussion.

Councilwoman Ray asked how the $65 administration fee was calculated as she said this seems extremely excessive.

Fire Chief Senft explained that they have researched the time and effort involved with administration of the vacant property ordinance and determined that the city’s approximate hourly operating cost for 2009 would be about $62.01 per hour. If this were rounded upward to reflect a mid-year increase cost of operations, it would seem reasonable to charge a flat fee of $65.00 per building, per year for the administrative costs involved with the registration of a vacant building.

There being no further discussion, Resolution No. 142 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 4; Nays – Ray – 1.

NEW BUSINESS

Resolution No. 155, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution Authorizing the purchase of a 2009 Ford Escape, 4WD, 4-door, inline, 4 cylinder, gas powered, automatic transmission, XLT trim, U93 vehicle, with specified options, in the amount of $20,173 for use by the WWTP, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 155 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 156, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving a contract with Frey Lutz Corp. for the Headworks HVAC project at the WWTP in the amount of $256,800 and to be paid from the Intermunicipal Sewer fund, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 156 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 157, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution approving a contract with Doug Lamb Contractors for the Roosevelt Ave. Storm Sewer Improvement Project, in the amount of $82,762.50, was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 157 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 158, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the WWTP within the 2008 inter-municipal fund ($103,500), was introduced by Smith, read at length, and on motion of Smith, seconded by Texter, Resolution No. 158 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 159, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing a budget transfer for the Bureau of Health within a state health grant fund ($13,256), was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 159 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

Resolution No. 160, Session 2008, (View) A Resolution authorizing an agreement with the PA Dept. of Health to provide public health services to prevent and control the spread of communicable diseases, for the period of January 1 – December 31, 2009 in the amount of $187,650, was introduced by Ray, read at length, and on motion of Ray, seconded by Smith, Resolution No. 160 passed by the following vote: Yeas – Ray, Hill-Evans, Texter, Smith, Musso – 5; Nays – 0.

REQUESTS FOR FUTURE MEETINGS: None

COUNCIL COMMENT: None

ADMINISTRATION COMMENT: None

NEXT MEETING: The next regular meeting of City Council is scheduled for October 21, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. (Public Comment commences at 6:30 p.m.) in City Council Chambers, 1 Marketway West, 3rd Floor, York, PA.

ADJOURNMENT: There being no further business, the October 7, 2008 meeting of Council adjourned at 9:15 p.m.