Supervisors object to licensing soil scientists

Officials also object to commercial traffic ban proposed for Route 209

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  • Photo: The Pennsylvania Association of Professional Soil Scientists (papss.org)



In other business

Tax discount ends — Viola Canouse reported that the discount period for taxes had ended. With that, the township has collected 87 percent of taxes for the year, totaling $242,102. Canouse said four high-value homes had completed sales transactions in the municipality, resulting in $6,174 in real estate transfer taxes.
Road work — Supervisor and Roadmaster Gary Williams reported the completion of grading, ditch repairs, pipe work and brush cutting — including the addition of 200 yards of Juke Mesh along Fire Tower Road.
Road work bids — Supervisors decided to drop the chip seal application on Shocopee Road, as the bids were excessive. The township did accept the bid for blacktopping on Moon Valley Road ($38,934.72) and School House Road ($25,684.88) from Wayco Inc. totaling $64,619.20. The money will come out of last year’s fund and part of this year’s liquid fuels fund.
Cable update — Blue Ridge Cable finally responded to the township’s request to provide service for all residents, including those in the Keystone development, who must rely on service without local news and programming. Blue Ridge said including those additional residents was cost-prohibitive. Quick said he would take the matter up with the local engineering representative to determine where, exactly, the problem lies.
Bookmobile — Quick, agreeing with Gary Williams and other officials at the meeting, said the township would not benefit from the libary’s proposed bookmobile because of the close proximity of the Milford branch. They’d received a letter from the Pike County Public Library board, which is trying to come up with ways to support the western part of the county without the expense of building new branches.
Schocopee Road — Stroyan said the water run-off problems on Schocopee Road will take a little more time to fix.
Next meeting — The next meeting of the Milford Township supervisors is 7 p.m. on Monday, June 2, in the administration building on Routes 6 and 209.

— Milford Township officials are regarding with suspicion a proposed new state law to license soil scientists.

At the May 19 township meeting, Supervisors' Chair Don Quick and Planning Commission Chair Kevin Stroyan said the bill now before the state house would expand the scope of the 1945 Engineer, Land Surveyor and Geologist Registration Law to include soil science. It includes a procedure for getting a professional soil scientist license from the state.

On the surface, Quick said, the bill appears simply to license soil scientists. But he said there's a subtext to the bill, which would require every municipality to employ licensed soil scientists to do work already being done by engineers and zoning officials. Work that has already been reviewed would have to be re-reviewed by the soil scientist, said Quick.

The bill would “add burdens to municipalities, the state and landowners,” he said.

Quick said he's already spoken with Melissa Morgan, the legislative coordinator for the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors (PSATS). He encourages other municipal leaders to do the same, adding that this is not legislation they should back.

The bill has been in the Professional Licensure Committee of the PA House since March 14.

The Pennsylvania Association of Professional Scientists supports the bill, saying that only a professional soil scientist has the know-how to prevent many of the damages that may occur as a result of construction, including structural damage, septic system failures, and chronic flooding. Their website (papss.org) says a professional soil scientist “is trained to understand the uses and limitations of the natural soil; conducts focused investigations best suited to site-specific applications; is educated and experienced in the interpretation of physical, chemical, and biological properties of soils; and is a necessary partner for other licensed professionals to rely on to meet the goals of safeguarding life and property.”

The association describes specific projects that failed because of the lack of soil expertise: see http://bit.ly/1nX3JJ8.

Planners to take up Route 209 restriction

Stroyan also objects to National Park Service Superintendent John Donahue's proposal to ban tractor-trailers and other commercial traffic on Route 209 through the park. He said the planning commission will be taking the issue up at its next meeting May 26.

Donahue says long-distance truckers use Route 209 mostly as a shortcut. But local businesses that travel locally, from the farmer's truck to the salesperson in his or her own vehicle, would also be affected, Quick said.

A letter from Donahue says commercial traffic has a negative impact on the five million visitors the park receives each year. Quick said this number is derived from counters on the roadways, which counts each passing vehicle as 2.6 people. It cannot tell if it's the same vehicle traveling both directions or multiple times a day.

At a Dingman Township meeting last spring, officials discussed how Stroyan, who is also the Pike County coroner and owner of Stroyan Funeral Home on Harford Street in Milford, is worried about how the closure will affect his duties as coroner and as operator of the funeral home. He must be able to access crime scenes and pick up people who have died in their residence.

Editor's note: The meeting started with an invocation remembering Gary Clark Jr., who died on May 13 at the age of 29. For more information please turn to page 15.

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