Peck Hill concerns mount in New Milford

BY STACI WILSON

Issues on Peck Hill Rd. continue to dominate New Milford Borough Council meetings.

From drainage problems on the street to potential code violations, council members discussed available options as to how to proceed at the Thursday, Nov. 1 meeting.

The borough recently formed a committee to look into possible solutions, but Councilman Rick Ainey warned, the borough could wind up in another legal battle.

Ainey has sought help from the county planning commission about what is alleged to be property development on Peck Hill that is causing the road to wash away and residents down the hill to take on water during rains storms.

Ainey reported to council that the planning commission said it was not going to get involved in the matter and the concerns would be forwarded to the county commissioners.

He told council he was submitting a right-to-know request for paperwork pertaining to the planning commission’s review of the borough’s concerns.

Ainey also said he recently drove up Peck Hill Rd. where he found a residence that had fire damage to about half of it.

“That’s got to be a violation of the housing code,” Ainey said. “We have to be prepared to go at this from all angles.”

Council also discussed building permits filed by the property owner. It was reported that one building permit was filed with the Council of Governments and one zoning permit had been issued from the borough.

Council will investigate to see if those are the only permits filed for the property where it is alleged that several outbuildings have been constructed.

Council President Teri Gulick said the borough has not been getting the back-up it needs from state agencies in dealing with the landowner.

Ainey said he was advised to bring pictures of the ongoing problem to the planning commission. Several Peck Hill residents in attendance at the meeting said they had documented problems on the road with photographs.

He also said he had met with a resident on the road who indicated that he would be willing to testify, if needed, that he has witnessed people living in units on the property.

“We may end up having to sue (the property owner) for our street,” Ainey said. “And we may ask the neighboring property owners to join us.”

Council also discussed a recent denial by the codes and zoning officer of an application for camper trailers in the borough.

The application was denied, council reported, because the proposed campers would be in the borough’s flood plain.

On the subject of campers, Ainey said he wanted to make it clear that he was not personally against campers being located in the borough.

He had brought up the concern to council in recent months after a resident asked him about the issue. “It was a concern brought to me,” he said. “That’s why I brought it forward.”

Gulick said the council’s main concern with campers is the location of some in the flood plain as well as the need for the mobile units to be anchored to the ground.

“We have seen so much devastation due to flooding,” Gulick said. The campers, she warned, could be moved by flood waters and create a blockage, leading to increased flooding in parts of the borough.

Council is looking into how to handle the increasing number of campers that are moving into the borough due to the area’s housing shortage.

The intersection of Jackson St. (Rt. 492) and Rt. 11 has become increasingly dangerous, council members reported at the meeting.

Members have approached PennDOT about the need for adding a traffic light at the intersection.

Councilwoman Donna Cosmello said she had been in contact with Sen. Gene Yaw’s office and they had promised to look into the matter.

“There has to be an option,” Cosmello said. “I don’t want to hear we need more fatalities.”

Ainey suggested the borough provide additional Montrose patrol coverage during school times to police the intersection. He noted that Act 13 money could be used for police.

A public hearing on the proposed Earned Income Tax will be held Thursday, Nov. 15 during the council meeting.

Santa in the Park was scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 24. The annual event is held in Midtown Park. A non-perishable food item is requested as admission to be donated to the local food bank.

Eleanor Lempke volunteered to provide the candy that will be handed out by Santa.