Ligonier Township officials and the Ligonier Township Municipal Authority (LTMA) are regrouping on their goal to expand public sewer access after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rejected a new Act 537 sewage facilities plan for the municipality earlier this summer.
Members of the township’s board of supervisors, the LTMA board of directors and The EADS Group engineering firm will meet with DEP representatives on Thursday, Sept. 22, to review the denial reasons and determine potential resolutions.
The meeting will not be open to the public.
The Act 537 plan proposes three sewage treatment options for the Wilpen, Waterford and Oak Grove neighborhoods either using the LTMA’s existing wastewater plant in Darlington, connecting to the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County’s facility in Ligonier Borough, or building a new estimated $5 million plant along Wilpen Road.
Ligonier Township appealed the DEP’s June decision, but since then the agency issued another letter with two additional denial reasons, as township Manager Michael Strelic and Solicitor Dan Hudock explained at the supervisors’ meeting Tuesday night.
The supervisors voted in favor of two separate resolutions to appeal the amended rejection and restate their approval of the Act 537 plan as the DEP claimed in one of its denial reasons that the township did not pass anything accepting the plan.
After agreeing to advertise two vacancies on the Ligonier Township Recreation Board, as reported in the Sept. 14 issue of the Bulletin, the supervisors voted 3-1 to appoint public works employee Russell Berkey as the department group leader.
The board spent about 15 minutes in an executive session before its decision. Supervisor Stephanie Verna was absent, while Supervisor Scott Matson cast the lone vote against Berkey’s appointment, explaining to the Bulletin after the meeting that the township will be hiring somebody soon for the department.
Ligonier Township is still searching for its new public works director and equipment operator. In August, the board created the hybrid position to replace the former public works director role that was previously filled by Russ Morgan.
In other business, the board also voted to apply for two infrastructure funding opportunities in 2023: a Westmoreland Conservation District Dirt, Gravel and Low Volume Roads grant for Hidden Valley Road, and a Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Community Development Block Grant for the second of three phases of a Deeds Road water line replacement.
The board also approved amending Ligonier Township’s nuisance ordinance to add portable toilets and only permit their outdoor placement for a maximum of 30 days, with certain exceptions including new construction work, parks and recreational areas, and agricultural or industrial districts.
Supervisor Erik Ross congratulated Darlington Volunteer Fire Company Station 42 for serving as the host company that secured a six-figure Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional grant that will supply several local fire departments with new 800 MHz mobile and portable radios.
The beneficiaries of the $792,227 Assistance to Firefighters Grants Program are volunteer departments in Darlington, Waterford, Wilpen, Chestnut Ridge, Bolivar Borough, Derry Borough, New Alexandria Borough and Slickville.
The funding will help these eight companies upgrade their communication ability during emergency situations, Ross said.
He also reminded the public about the Ligonier Valley Fire Companies’ ongoing fundraiser for the four local departments in Darlington, Wilpen, Waterford and Ligonier Borough.
“If you haven’t donated, we urge you to donate because we are solely volunteer. And that money – with COVID and prices going up – goes not as far as what it did last year or the year before, so we’re really relying on the community to help the fire companies,” Ross said.
The supervisors also approved a Set the Year on Fire 5K race Jan. 1, 2023, along the Ligonier Valley Trail to benefit Ligonier Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1.
Ligonier Borough Council earlier this month also approved the 5K race and use of the pavilion at Weller Field with the condition that the supervisors granted the request, given that most of the route lies in Ligonier Township.
The board also approved two subdivisions previously recommended by the township’s planning commission.
Thomas and Elizabeth McChesney plan to transfer more than two acres of their 37.6-acre tract on Darlington Rector Road as a side-lot addition to the Joyce family’s adjacent property, giving their neighbors an additional buffer.
Vaughn and Bonnie Blaxter own more than 38 acres on Chrisner Road encompassing a frame cottage, which they want to separate onto its own 3-acre lot while attaching the remaining acreage to their adjoining land.
As a public service announcement, Ligonier Valley assistant police Chief Michael Matrunics reminded drivers to be aware of students walking along the roadway and waiting at bus stops now that the new school year is in session.
The board of supervisors is scheduled to meet again this month at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, at the Ligonier Township Municipal Complex.