Residents raise concerns at Palmyra Council meeting

Officials address property, trash collection issues

From redevelopment to trash collection, Palmyra council’s virtual meeting on July 20 addressed a variety of issues in the borough.

Mayor Gina Ragomo Tait and all council members were present for the evening meeting, which kicked off on a high note as borough Clerk Rita Jackson shared a thank-you letter from recent Palmyra High School graduate Jayme Livingstone, the 2020 recipient of a council scholarship.

During public comment, much discussion surrounded the condition of the residential property at 310 Arch St. According to comments submitted prior to the meeting and read aloud by Jackson, people continue to live at the boarded-up property against township code. It was also questioned why the property owners were not being made to comply with codes regarding property upkeep.

Fire Chief Richard Dreby also spoke on a recent emergency response call to the property, citing the boarded windows and back door that made the front door the only access point to get in and out of the house.

“It’s a major safety issue, not only for the residents, but for anyone who has to respond down there,” Dreby said.

Council discussed options for the property, including the possibility of a relocation assistance plan.

“This has been too long,” Council President Timothy Howard said. “Once it was boarded up, I thought they weren’t allowed in the facility at all.”

“They weren’t,” Borough Administrator John Gural replied, “but we’ve had this situation in the past.”

Gural said addressing 310 Arch St. would be a priority.

Resident Rob Gleisner spoke during the meeting’s public comment, questioning why public trash receptacles along Harbour Drive are not emptied daily.

“I don’t think it’s that much of a big problem for the public works people to spend 10 minutes a day emptying trash receptacles,” he said. “I understand there is a lot more pedestrian traffic right now than probably there is normally, but I think it’s unacceptable for the trash receptacles to be overflowing.”

Gural said the receptacles are emptied twice a week, but Gleisner insisted they overflow every day.

“We’ll come up with a new system and double check to make sure it’s cleaned up,” Howard said.

Redevelopment updates were also a focus at the meeting. Gural gave an update on the Route  73 south redevelopment area. The project, underway for nearly 15 years now, involves about 189 acres in total. It’s nearly all the property on the west side of Route 73, from the highway to the river and Pennsauken Creek, with a few exceptions, including the Bridge Commission and Palmyra Cove Nature Park properties, as well as a few residential properties.

The borough is currently in negotiations with Stock Development Group to redevelop the area. A proposed plan will be “fine tuned” soon, and a number of questions and comments from the redeveloper’s group need to be resolved. The borough hopes to appoint a financial planner for the project at its first August meeting.

Redevelopment counsel Andrew Brewer Esq., of Maraziti Falcone, also spoke on the redevelopment project at Outlaw Training & Fitness, 620-622 Highland Ave. Because the property owner’s appraiser needed an extension due to medical issues, an extension to Sept. 21 was given.

Two ordinances were up for second reading, and both were approved unanimously.

Ordinance 2020-06 approved a bond ordinance to acquire various pieces of equipment and complete capital improvements in the amount of $2,019,800. According to Gural, $1.9 million is for road improvements in general, the largest project being Temple Boulevard.

Also approved on second reading was Ordinance 2020-07, another bond ordinance authorizing the completion of sewer improvements throughout the borough. Gural said the $812,000 was broken down to: $244,000 for various improvements, such as air valves and pumps; $251,000 for completion of the public road pump station; and $317,000 for construction of a stormwater basin and electrical duct bank.

In other news:

• Borough plumbing inspector Dominic Petito retired. His last day was June 25.

• A resolution approved at the meeting recommends Block 80 Lot 6 – the former Knights of Columbus property – be redeveloped. Brewer is preparing a resolution for the land use board concurring with the findings and declaring the property an area in need of redevelopment.

• Another resolution approved at the meeting authorized the emergency acquisition of a pump for the Firth Lane sewer plant. This item was previously authorized in the 2019 Sewer Capital Ordinance and is being purchased now.

• Ordinance 2020-08 was approved on first reading and authorizes special emergency appropriations, not to exceed $15,000, to fund execution of codification costs in the borough. Public hearing on the ordinance is Aug. 17.

• A social permit was approved for the Palmyra Fire Company to host its Beer Fest on Oct. 3.

• Two Veterans Parking Only signs are being added in the borough. Councilman Brandon Allmond recommended they be placed at Legion Field near the tennis courts, and between the pharmacy and bank on Broad Street.

• Additional sick/PTO days for township staff related to the COVID-19 pandemic were previously authorized for a three-month period that ended on May 31. The motion was made and approved unanimously to extend this policy through the end of the calendar year, with Gural adding the council can revisit the topic before the end of the year if needed.

• Resolution 2020-161, amending Resolution 2020-141, was introduced, permitting business establishments to offer live outdoor entertainment limited to quiz nights and acoustic music, from Monday to Sunday, 6 to 9 p.m. Council members voted to approve the resolution, with Howard the lone vote against.