Salisbury Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY  PAUL WILLISTEIN Barbara Baldwin, who lives along Foothill Road in eastern Salisbury Township, raises residents' concerns about stormwater drainage. PRESS PHOTO BY PAUL WILLISTEIN Barbara Baldwin, who lives along Foothill Road in eastern Salisbury Township, raises residents' concerns about stormwater drainage.

No action taken on residents' request to repair road not owned by township

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Local News

The Salisbury Township Board of Commissioners has rejected a plea from several eastern Salisbury Township residents to mitigate what they say are stormwater drainage problems resulting from a township stormwater culvert and a road to the residents' homes.

Township officials have determined the road is not a township road and, therefore, the township is not obligated to repair it and could be subject to liabilities if it did.

Also, based on a recent public inspection, the township consulting engineer concluded the culvert is not a cause of the problem.

Commissioners announced their decision at the April 11 township meeting. The board decided by consensus, with one commissioner absent, and did not vote on the matter.

The board had voted 5-0 at the March 28 meeting to have township officials meet on-site with residents to review their complaints and inspect the area.

Commissioners based their decision on an inspection by David J. Tettemer, Keystone Consulting Engineers, Inc., township consulting engineering firm, who met with residents at the site of what is known as Irlyn and Foothill Roads, off Church Road. Township Manager Randy Soriano and township Director of Planning and Zoning Cynthia Sopka also met on-site with the residents.

Approximately five residents complained about stormwater problems at the March 28 commissioners' meeting. The residents were represented by Barbara Baldwin, who lives along Foothill Road.

"It seems that we've determined that the township does not have any record of owning these roads [Irlyn-Foothill Roads]. So, at this point, we maintain it's a private issue," Soriano told commissioners April 11.

"I'm not quite sure if [there is] anything we can do with the culvert in our public right-of-way," Soriano added.

"There's no indication that the discharge from the culvert [is a problem] that shouldn't be an issue for the roadway," Tettemer said.

"The road [Irlyn-Foothill Roads] is in need of repair. I suggested to the residents that they do a title search to see whose responsibility it is to maintain the road," Tettemer said.

"At one time, I think there was a drainage swale. Over the last 20 years, it filled in and a tree fell on the road. But that is not a municipal issue," Tettemer said.

Commissioner Vice President Robert Martucci Jr. asked what the property deeds determine.

"The deeds talk about owning to the edge of the road," Atty. John W. Ashley, township solicitor said. "My suspicion is that it may be an old farm road."

Sopka said her research indicated that circa 1950 it was farm land with a road. She also said there was a subdivision plan for the property. "Apparently, it was never rezoned. But it was a plan that was written," Sopka said. "I think it was proposed, but never was done," Sopka added.

"So the road doesn't belong to anybody?" asked Commissioner President James Brown.

"It belongs to somebody," Tettemer replied.

"It doesn't belong to the township," Soriano said.

"It's up to the residents to work it out. It's going to cost money to repair that road," Brown said.

"Much as it might be nice to help the people out, I'd be very hesitant to do any work on private property," Ashley advised commissioners.

"Especially if you don't know who owns it," Tettemer added noting of the road, "The right-of-way isn't to our specifications."

"I think the proper action will be a non action," said Brown, asking, "Is that the consensus?"

"Yes," responded the commissioners in unison.

Ashley advised that no motion nor vote was required by the board.

Soriano said he would write a letter and send it to the residents, informing them of the board's decision.

At the March 28 meeting, Soriano referred to Jan. 28 and Feb. 14 correspondences from the residents to township officials. The residents requested that the Irlyn and Foothill Roads topic be placed on the March 28 meeting agenda, which was done.