Catasauqua Press

Monday, July 22, 2019

CASD rezoning request approved

Wednesday, February 13, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

Change allows for housing, trail on land across from Sheckler Elementary

At Catasauqua Borough Council’s regular meeting Feb. 4, Catasauqua Area School District received good news about the land it owns on 14th Street, across from Sheckler Elementary School.

The district wants to sell the land and has interested developers. The land is zoned as a conservation district, which requires 1 acre of land per family unit. The school board asked for rezoning to accommodate higher density. The zoning will allow family units similar to what is already in place along 14th Street.

The change was passed unanimously by council members.

The entire parcel is 14-plus acres. The new zoning is limited to 5.6 acres. Zoning on the remaining acreage will be decided in the future. The details of the boundary and right of way are in the hands of the solicitor.

One restriction requested by the school board and endorsed by council was a requirement to include a walking/bicycle trail on the property. The goal is to have the trail link to other trails in the borough and across the Lehigh Valley as part of THE LINK Trail Network.

In other business, the borough agreed to enter into a streetlight services agreement with PPL Electric Utilities. The objective is to replace high-usage light fixtures with lower-energy LED fixtures. The original objective was to reduce electric costs to the borough. PPL was granted a special rate for streetlights by the public utilities commission. The new rate sharply reduces the savings the borough can anticipate.

“We will see some savings but not nearly what we were expecting,” township Manager Stephen Travers said.

An advantage for the borough is a cleaner, brighter light that should make streets and sidewalks more visible.

The borough is looking to work with a police chief-endorsed consortium for selecting and hiring police officers. Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will conduct physical agility and written tests for candidates. Catasauqua, along with other municipalities, can set unique requirements and standards for its officers.

Once a candidate is approved, he or she can file for employment with any of the municipalities. The civil service board will draft a selection list, and council will make the final selection. Any candidate selected by a municipality is required to stay on the force for at least two years.

A first round of approximately 250 candidates is scheduled for spring.

Councilman Brian McKittrick noted the borough has budgeted a new resource officer for the school district. That selection will be made under the new process.

Borough Engineer Ron Gawlik reported the borough is working closely with a potential developer for the Iron Works project.

The replacement of the Race Street bridge is still under consideration.

The Walnut Street bridge replacement is set to go out to bid.

Gawlik indicated the plans for streetscape improvements along Front Street are scheduled to be released for bid later this month.

Fire Chief Richard Hertzog took a moment to present service awards to Laura and Darryl Paul for their years of service. Laura is a driver, and Darryl celebrated his 40th year with the fire department. He continues to serve as deputy chief.