Shade Tree Motion Passes at Whitehall Council Meeting
Also, two sewage items, SHAADD members continue to ask for a community rights ban on drilling, and other notes.
Shade Tree Commission
Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall—along with the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook—are already part of multi-municipal planning group for the Route 51 corridor, and the Shade Tree Commission would be an extension of that cooperation.
The commission will be made up of nine non-compensated members appointed for five-year terms, with the possible addition of three other members.
"This is a good thing," said Whitehall Mayor James F. Nowalk, who has been championing the commission idea. "It's purely advisory and will result in getting free trees and expertise. It's a no-lose situation for any municipality, and I am hopeful that all three are going to adopt it."
Landlords to Be Billed for Sewage Now
Also passed during Wednesday night's council meeting was Councilman Glenn Nagy's motion for the borough to stop directly billing for sewage tenants who rent living space from a property owner.
Nagy's Administrative Services Committee reviewed Whitehall's billing process and concluded that it is too laborious for the borough's staff. The committee thus requested that the borough bill each landlord directly, as state law places the responsibility for payment with that person or business.
Nagy's motion passed unanimously.
New Sewage Bill Collector
In related news, the Pennsylvania American Water Company, as of Oct. 12, will cease to collect sewage bills. In response, Whitehall Borough officials are looking for another company to collect those bills from Whitehall residents.
Ban on Drilling?
With the recent passing of a joint bill by the Pennsylvania Legislature that amends the state's Oil and Gas Act to allow natural gas drilling in all municipal zones (House Bill 1950), members of the South Hills Area Against Dangerous Drilling (SHAADD) community group used public comments time during Wednesday night's meeting to again urge the Whitehall Council to adopt a community rights ban against drilling.
"The state has taken away your rights," SHAADD member Aaron Booz said, "and we're asking you as our representatives to take some action and not simply put up with it."
Councilman Philip Lahr commended the group for its research and knowledge on the issue but said that he doesn't want to put the people of Whitehall in jeopardy with the possibility of a lawsuit.
Still, Lahr said, "We have to be fighting for not allowing those who do this job of 'fracking' and pulling bad water out that contaminates and find a better and safer way controlled by the federal government and the municipalities."
The Whitehall Council will continue to investigate options on this issue and follow the legal advice of its solicitor—Irving Firman.
Whitehall Code Online?
Firman said that plans to put Whitehall's ordinances on the borough website are under way and that the process is likely to be completed by the end of April.
Road Program Bid Accepted
The borough's 2012 road program work was awarded to A. Folino Construction, of Plum Borough, for $749,671.62.
New Whitehall Fire Station
The interior of the Whitehall Fire Company's new station along Route 51 is complete, and the station as a whole is expected to be finished in about one month, architect Mark Edelmann said.
Edelmann also said that the project is $152,000 under budget and that a grand opening will be planned after May 1, this year.
Sisters of St. Francis
Nowalk recognized and honored the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God, who are headquartered in Whitehall, on their 90th anniversary and called upon all local residents and business owners to offer them congratulations.
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