Harford adopts noise ordinance

BY PAT FARNELLI

Harford Township supervisors adopted an Industrial Noise Ordinance Tuesday and listened to residents’ opinions about winter road conditions. The noise ordinance, written by supervisor Garry Foltz, is modeled on similar ordinances in nearby municipalities.

The Susquehanna County Commissioners also recently adopted a noise ordinance, the supervisors explained. The township ordinance, according to Foltz,  is designed to protect township residents from excessive, round the clock noise from industrial sources, including the natural gas industry, but has exemptions for temporary activities, such as drilling a gas well.

The ordinance is available for public view at the township office. After the reading aloud of the proposed ordinance by Foltz, visitor comments were heard, and then the supervisors voted to approve the ordinance, which would go into effect five days afterward.

One resident, Fred Grasso, was concerned that the decibel ceiling of 50 dB was too low, and asked the supervisors for comparable sounds, such as conversation or vehicle back-up alarms. He said that he was worried that such an ordinance would deter gas companies from leasing land for drilling purposes in Harford Township.

Foltz said that he had researched noise ordinances in effect in other municipalities, particularly Clifford Township, and that the 50 dB benchmark seemed to be the most advisable. “I thought it was a bit harsh to have only two hours to fix a problem (with noise pollution),” he said. “We have eight hours to fix a violation in our ordinance.”

 He said that three or four gas companies had told him that would not pose a problem. Also, the county noise ordinance is set at the same level. He mentioned that some noise ordinances were set at 55 dB, and that he had visited several compressor stations in the area, and had spoken to a gentleman at the Cabot public meeting at Mountain View on the subject.

Much of the meeting was taken up in discussion of snow and ice removal on township roads, as well as their general condition.

Supervisor Terry VanGorden reported on the township’s difficulties keeping the trucks and grader operable during the winter months, and was challenged repeatedly by Grasso.

VanGorden is the township’s roadmaster, and openly admitted that the township trucks are taking a beating. “There are a number of roads that you can’t plow with a heavy truck,” he said.

VanGorden has been operating the Ford 550, which is sagging under the weight of a heavy plow and spreader, as well as hauling cinders. A year ago, the clutch had to be replaced, and the 550 is currently in the shop for both of the spring assemblies to be replaced. The spring assemblies will be replaced with extra heavy duty, 16,000 lb spring assemblies that are available for that model.

 “Don’t push back (the snowbanks) with the 550, or you will fry the clutch,” Foltz said.

With 62 miles of dirt roads, the township has struggled with breakdowns and freeze ups, and has difficulty finding employees with CDL licenses to operate the heavy trucks.

A resident, who said he had been a fireman since the age of 18 and is now 48, said that he understands VanGorden’s dilemma after several discussions concerning the roads. “I’ve driven many an ambulance and fire truck, and they can get down these dirt roads in the winter. They have on-demand chains for their tires, and they work.”

VanGorten concluded, “The bottom line is, we need better trucks.”

He also reported that the remainder of the township’s road signs have arrived from Bradco, and are correctly made. He said that he has begun installing the signs, and will be able to meet the 2012 requirement for road signs. “However, some of the signs have already disappeared, and since they cost the township $25 each, plus $45 for the post assembly, plus time for installation, this is a problem,” he said.

In other business, the Harford Township Special Fire Police were named by VanGorden. There are six members, including VanGorden. He said that the Fire Police are appointed by the township, but are under the direction of the fire chief. Five members have advanced in rank, and several have taken legal training courses.

The Harford Penn Can Travel Plaza has been sold, and its owner, Lynn Butler, has subdivided the property into two separate lots. 6.5 acres is being taken from the big lot and added onto the business lot, which has been sold. “She is keeping 61 acres,” said supervisor Sue Furney. The subdivision was approved.

Doug Higgins from the Harford Lenox Baseball League came to the meeting with two requests: to ask if the township could survey the baseball field property surveyed in case of possible improvements, and to ask for a donation for the program. The supervisors voted to approve a $500 donation this year.

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