Clarks Summit approves 2015 budget

First Posted: 12/6/2014

CLARKS SUMMIT — Council unanimously passed the 2015 budget at the regular council meeting Dec. 3. Clarks Summit property owners will not face an increase to the current 29.5 percent millage rate, but sewer rates will increase to $52, up from $47, due to expected increases in operational costs from the Abington Regional Wastewater Authority (ARWA) and the borough’s compliance with federally mandated MS4 regulations.

A public hearing was also held regarding a curative amendment at 110 Maple St. to change the zoning of the property from an R1, or low density residential district, to a CC, or central commercial district. Council members stated concerns at the November work session that this may be considered spot zoning.

According to Borough Solicitor Attorney Dan Mulhern, there are some, “distinguishing characteristics” with the Maple Street property amendment that would not reflect spot zoning. Atty. Mulhern cited such a characteristic includes that there are multiple commercially zoned properties surrounding 110 Maple St., including a car wash and a hair salon.

At the hearing, no members of the public opposed rezoning the Maple Street property to a commercial property. The proposal is expected to be addressed Dec. 17 at the planning commission meeting.

Lackawanna County Community Relations Coordinator Gerard Hetman updated council regarding the status of the audit holding up funds for Clarks Summit’s Depot Street overhaul.

As of Monday Dec. 1, Hetman told council “we haven’t seen a change,” in the status of the audit for the DCED money to be allocated towards the Depot Street overhaul.

In August, Lackawanna County Director of Economic Development George Kelly told council the county will not disperse Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds because of an audit from Harrisburg.

“I don’t see why it takes so long to do an audit,” said council member Herman Johnson.

Council also approved a six-month extension for organizers of The Gathering Place to meet their $200,000 goal in order to transform the downstairs of the borough building into The Gathering Place for community, arts, and education. Mary Ann Nichols and Dori Waters from The Gathering Place told council they have raised approximately $150,000, and thanked council for their ongoing support of the project.

Tom Hill, owner of State Street Grill in Clarks Summit, also addressed council regarding parking issues at the restaurant. Hill asked for council’s help to propose a shared parking plan in the borough for State Street Grill patrons to use surrounding business’s parking lots, only after hours. Hill said State Street is willing to pay for part of liability coverage other businesses may be concerned about, and to keep the lots clean and plow them as well as pay for plowing them.

Council members suggested Hill reach out to the Abington Business and Professional Association (ABPA) for partnership. Borough Manager Virginia Kehoe agreed to help Hill research shared lots to if other communities have successfully created such a program.

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