East Nottingham Township supervisors discuss agricultural easement, truck traffic
● By Steven Hoffman
During the May 8 meeting of the East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors, there was an update about the financial situation of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority.
East Nottingham Township is one of four member municipalities―along with Oxford Borough, West Nottingham Township, and Lower Oxford Township―of the sewer authority. In 2016, the sewer authority failed to make debt service payments totaling $1.2 million on a $27 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. The loan was taken out more than seven years ago to expand the public sewer system for the Oxford area, and in order to secure the loan each member municipality had to agree to back the loan in the event that the sewer authority couldn't make its payments in a given year. Each municipality accepted a portion of the responsibility. In East Nottingham Township's case, it is responsible for 28 percent of the total that the sewer authority isn't able to pay.
Oxford Area Sewer Authority officials, at that time, offered assurances to elected officials in Oxford Borough, East Nottingham, West Nottingham, and Lower Oxford that the revenues would be sufficient to cover the debt-service payments, and that the municipalities would not be put in a position to cover the sewer authority's financial obligations. The sewer authority has the ability to raise its rates, so any revenue shortfalls could be addressed before the municipalities were on the hook. But by 2016, the number of new connections to the sewer system had fallen way behind what had been projected, and the sewer authority wasn’t able to meet its financial obligations.
In late February of this year, the Oxford Area Sewer Authority notified each member municipality that it wanted them to pay the $1.2 million that is past-due so that the sewer authority is on good financial standing moving forward. Each municipality differed in their responses, ranging from one that was prepared to make its payment immediately to one that did not agree to make the payment at all until the sewer authority took additional steps that it had agreed to do as part of a work-out agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture.
Township supervisor Sam Goodley offered the update to his colleagues on the East Nottingham board, explaining that the member municipalities are still attempting to reach a consensus on how to proceed.
Goodley added that the Oxford Area Sewer Authority is still in discussions with two different entities that are interested in purchasing the sewer system.
Goodley did have some good news about the sewer authority’s financial situation, explaining that the sewer authority board anticipates making its next payment when it is due.
“I think things are slowly turning around,” Goodley said.
In other business at the meeting, East Nottingham Township is entering into an agreement for an agricultural preservation easement on slightly more than nine acres of the Groseclose property. The township will be paying slightly more than $7,000 per acre for the agricultural preservation easement, so the total cost will be approximately $63,000. The township’s approval was contingent on a public hearing that will take place on May 29. The township will make its payment at the time of settlement, which could take place this calendar year.
Another issue that the supervisors addressed at the meeting is the possibility of closing Twin House Road to heavy truck traffic except for local deliveries. Joe Herlihy, the chairman of the board of supervisors, advocated closing Twin House Road, a township road, to tractor trailers.
Herlihy said that he would like to see a traffic sign put up that would prohibit large truck traffic from making a lefthand turn from Baltimore Pike to Twin House Road. Trucks keep knocking down the signs when they make the turn. The township is going to contact PennDOT for direction on how to proceed. Eventually, the township may need to adopt an ordinance that would formally restrict tractor trailers from using Twin House Road unless they are making local deliveries.
The East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors approved a waiver request for the Century Oak Phase 3A final subdivision―a waiver was sought from the township’s requirement to install streetlights. The supervisors agreed that it made sense to approve the waiver request in this instance.
Township officials might consider recording meetings in the future so that they can be shown on one of the local channels that Armstrong Cable makes available.
The township also clarified the procedure for residents to reserve a spot on the agenda. The township has public comment sessions during each public meeting, and during that time residents are free to make their comments about the issues the township is dealing with. However, in order for a resident to reserve a place on the agenda, he or she must notify the township by the Wednesday before the meeting and include a topic of discussion so that it can be included on the agenda.
The East Nottingham Township Board of Supervisors will meet again on Tuesday, June 12.