Montrose Council tempers flare

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose Borough Council moved forward at the Sept. 9 meeting to institute a “protocol” for access to the borough secretary.

The measure sparked a heated exchange between council members Sean Granahan and Julanne Skinner.

Granahan said the move would “tighten up” the way council members could have the borough secretary “look up information” and included an assignment process, job description and had Secretary Erin Jenner directly reporting to the council’s finance committee.

Skinner said that part of the reasoning behind the measure stemmed from a request for financial statements from “a citizen who also sits on borough council.”

“They (the financial statements) are to be reproduced on the spot,” Skinner said, referencing a state ethics code.

Granahan said the “protocol” would not interfere with the secretary’s legal obligations to produce items as required through Freedom of Information Act or Sunshine Law requests.

He then accused Skinner of reporting Jenner to the state ethics commission as retribution for council reporting her for an alleged ethics violation in connection with her involvement in the court case involving a zoning issue about a water distribution system installed in a residential area. Skinner worked for the attorney representing the Craig Stevens who appealed the zoning matter to the Court of Common Pleas.

“These baseless accusations need to stop,” Granahan said with his voiced raised.

“Anyone who walks in off the street has a right to that information,” Skinner said.

Council adopted the protocol with Skinner abstaining from the vote.

Leatherstocking Gas Company’s Matt Cook, at right, and Brian Sorochty of DDS Engineering brought information about the proposed build out of natural gas service in Montrose. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Leatherstocking Gas Company’s Matt Cook, at right, and Brian Sorochty of DDS Engineering brought information about the proposed build out of natural gas service in Montrose. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

Leatherstocking Gas Company’s Matt Cook and Brian Sorochty of DDS Engineering provided council with information about the natural gas distribution company’s plan to come into the borough next year.

Cook said Phase 1 of the project is about 95 percent complete with connections to the new Endless Mountains Health Systems facility and the Montrose High School expected to be completed in the next few weeks.
Phase II of the project includes the company’s reach into the borough from the main line in 2014.

Cook said a priority is to get service to businesses on Route 706, as well as to Lathrop St. Elementary, and the borough’s business area. Residential customers along that route will be able to hook on to the service at that time.

DDS Engineering is looking at a few different routes to bring gas into the town, with a combination of those routes likely in order to provide the service to prospective customers.

Leatherstocking representatives will canvas residents next spring and summer to determine who is interested in hooking up natural gas for their homes.

Sorochty also said that within the next few weeks, DDS Engineering staff will be seen in the borough and will be taking pictures of homes.

He said that all of the DDS employees will be carrying identification and photos of buildings will be taken from the street.

In other business, council approved the Andre’s Apartment Project plan for six units. The garden apartments will be located at the former Andre’s Mill site on Mill St.

Council also approved the Time Warner Cable franchise agreement discussed at the August meeting.

Following a brief executive session, council accepted, with regret, the resignation of Scott Singer from the borough street department, effective Aug. 31.

The borough will be advertising to hire a full-time street department employee.

The borough will also add a handicap parking space in the west municipal parking lot – now known as the Livery Lot.

Council will not hold a second borough meeting in September. The next meeting will be held Monday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m., at the borough building on Cherry St.