Work by contractor also scrutinized

 — A wide variety of topics ranging from pool permitting to poor restoration work were discussed during Monday's meeting of the Honesdale Borough council.

Local resident Harry Swartz approached the council during public comments and asked if there was anything which could be done about the process to place a pool in his yard.

Swartz said he has a unique situation because he cannot use his backyard for the pool. He said there are "very tight" boundary lines in the backyard.

Borough code states that pools can only be placed in a backyard.

Swartz said it is only a "$300" pool which is not permanent.

However, when he approached Daniel Hnatko, the borough's zoning enforcement officer, he was told "don't buy a permit because it's going to get denied."

The only other option is to go to the planning board and get a variance. The trouble with that, said Swartz, is the cost is $750.

Swartz said it would make no sense to pay $750 to install a "$300 pool."

"We're going to look into it," said Harry DeVrieze, chairman of the borough's planning and zoning committee. "We will see if we can help you out."

Mayor Ed Langendoerfer talked with Swartz about the situation and after the meeting said he thinks something needs to change.

"I think it is kind of crazy," said the mayor.

Langendoerfer said he understands where Hnatko is "coming from" because he is "just following the ordinance."

However, the mayor believes the council should take action and look closer at the ordinance.

"I think the council should revisit the ordinance," said Langendoerfer.

The mayor said he thought the ordinance applied to in-ground pools but during the meeting, it was said it is for pools which have as little as two feet of water.

The mayor said he knows of other situations where this same issue has arisen.

He also questioned what determines someone's "backyard."

In Honesdale, he noted, many houses are built on steep hills and sometimes the only access is what might be considered a traditional front yard. Many people, he said, primarily use their backdoors and wondered if that makes the back a front yard.

Leeward complaint

Another local citizen and former member of the council, Nick Slish, also addressed members on Monday night.

Slish said his residence is in part of the area which is under construction with the Aqua project in Honesdale.

"I understand they have to do their jobs," said Slish.

However, he said he received "no notification" from Leeward Construction, the main contractor, that his driveway was going to be cut for the utility work.

He said the concrete was cut "out of square" and also pointed out that when he poured the driveway, he used darker coloring. The new concrete, he said, is white and does not match his driveway.

Slish called it an "absolute lack of craftsmanship. It is just a mess."

Slish said he talked with Gary Linde of Leeward who advised him to contact Aqua.

Slish said he was in the process of making that happen.

"If it is Aqua's project, they should take more pride in their work," said Slish.

Slish said at some point in the future, it is the plan of his family to build a new house and sell their current residence. The value of the property will be less, he said, because of the poor work on the driveway.

Council vice-president Jim Brennan, back after serving a 45-day jail sentence for DUI, said he felt the borough should write a letter to Aqua on behalf of Slish expressing concerns about the work.

No council action was taken but apparently a letter will be written.

Coal pocket matter

Another discussion about the coal pocket parking took place at the meeting and it was revealed a new group is taking over the local railroad company.

Last month, the council voted 4-3 to end the program of allowing parking in the coal pocket area of the borough.

Under that plan, the borough collects money for permitted parking and then pays under a lease agreement with the current owners of the railroad property.

However, councilman Bob Jennings said he was tired of the situation because the borough was maintaining the property, most of which is privately owned.

At Monday's meeting, it was revealed a new operating company is going to be handling the railroad. That company is the Delaware, Lackawaxen and Stourbridge Railroad.

Jennings made a motion to get rid of the old lease which was made in 1988 and has since expired.

Borough solicitor Rich Henry said he didn't see a problem with the motion because the lease had expired.

When the vote was taken, it was 6-0 to end the lease.

After that, Brennan said he wanted to see a special committee formed to have a meeting with the new group and possibly discuss a new lease.

He tried to appoint Jennings to the committee, however, Jennings declined. Also declining were DeVrieze and councilwoman Juanita Pisano.

In the end, Brennan appointed himself and council members Mike Slish and Scott Smith to serve on the committee.

In a related matter, Jennings made a motion to modify where people with parking permits can park in the borough.

One area which Jennings thought needed to be included is around Central Park, where he said there are very few cars in the daytime.

The motion was to allow parking along Church Street and 9th Street around Central Park. The motion passed unanimously and the 10-hour meters have already been installed.

Sewer work

Jerry Theobald of the Central Wayne Sewer Authority made a presentation to the board.

He said the authority is starting its $1.2 million project on Terrace and Grove streets in the borough.

Theobald said the authority recently did a mass mailing to inform property owners they will be doing house inspections to determine the storm water runoff from properties.

Storm water, he said, is a major problem at the sewer plant and they are trying to have as little as possible go into the system.

When a situation does arise, Theobald said the authority can't tell the property owner "where to put the water." That has to come from officials with the Honesdale Public Works Department, he said.

In other business

• It was revealed by Smith that the forensic auditor will be coming to Honesdale on June 18. The audit stems from the office of Planning and Zoning and many records which were in question after former zoning office Wayne Earley was fired by the council.

Jennings has been pushing to have the audit done.

At Monday night's meeting, he said he was not aware the auditor was coming until hearing it from Smith.

Jennings does plan to meet with the auditor when he comes to Honesdale.

• Mike Slish announced there will be another "swim appreciate day" at the borough pool. It will be similar to last year's event.

The day will be held June 23 and admission will be free for everyone. There will also be food served. The council voted 6-0 to spend $800 to fund the day.

The pool will open on June 17.

• It was announced that Hnatko has been certified as a building code officer.

DeVrieze said it is part of the plan to "solidify" the office and have it "running without any controversy."

• Solicitor Rich Henry reported a tentative lease agreement has been reached with the Honesdale Little Baseball Association.

He suggested the council approve it "in principle" and then take action at the July 8 meeting. He also suggested a public hearing be held right at 7 p.m. that evening in order to take public comments.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the matter.

• The council voted 6-0 to amend the application agreement for the Fred R. Miller Pavilion to include the sale of wine.

• The council voted unanimously to advertise for quotes to have line painting done in the borough. That advertising is pending approval by PennDOT.