Catasauqua Press

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Catty council continues ticketing talk

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 by Paul Cmil Special to The Press in Local News

Those sworn to uphold law could issue tickets in proposed ordinance

At Catasauqua Borough Council’s workshop session June 25, Councilwoman Jessica Kroope expressed her continued displeasure with the proposed ticketing ordinance. Kroope has been opposed to the measure from the beginning.

The ordinance was introduced two months ago by Councilwoman Christine Weaver to ticket residents who ignore property maintenance and other nuisance offenses. Under the ordinance, a resident would be given a warning about a condition, and, if action was not taken, a $25 ticket would be issued. The resident could appeal the ticket, but the appeal process would cost $100.

“In my reading of the ordinance, there is too much opportunity for abuse,” she said.

There is a provision in the ordinance that allows various listed officials to issue tickets. According to Kroope’s thinking, a homeowner could receive multiple tickets for the same offense. Later in the meeting, the definition of “other public officials” cited in the ordinance was identified as those sworn to uphold the law.

“That would include code enforcement officials and police,” Solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich said. “The mayor could issue a ticket, but a member of council could not.”

Councilman Brian Bartholomew noted the ticketing ordinance applies to a small percentage of residents.

“We just don’t have that many offenders,” he said.

Kroope contends a ticket could lead to criminal proceedings. According to the solicitor, that is not the case.

“You can rip up the ticket, just like you can a parking ticket. You’ll get a citation, but it’s not a criminal violation,” Police Chief Douglas Kish said.

Thanks to borough Manager Stephen Travers, this is the first time council worked with an agenda at its workshop session. The move was designed to add some structure to the meeting, making it more solution focused.

In addition to the controversial ticketing ordinance, council will vote on an ordinance requiring grease traps for restaurant owners and a street restoration ordinance. The latter is an outgrowth of the utilities work in the borough, which has left some rough roads.

The grease ordinance is focused on getting globs of grease and flushable wipes out of the sewer system. Wastewater is cleaned by a complex biochemical reaction that converts waste to clean water that can be released into the aquifer. Grease disrupts the biochemical process, and unclean water can be dumped into the aquifer contaminating other waters.

Flushable wipes contribute to grease buildup because they get snagged on irregular features in the piping or get tangled up in debris that floats in the system. The wipes are flushable, but they take a long time to disintegrate. Wipes floating in the system collect grease and create their own flotsam, which bacteria cannot breakdown.

Because of the holiday, the regular council meeting will be 7 p.m. July 9.