The Elizabethtown Borough Council heard an introduction to a land development plan for Elizabethtown College’s construction project for a new physician assistant program.
The college has been facing dwindling enrollment and is trying to increase enrollment with a physician assistant master’s degree program. The plans include an addition of more than 10,000 square feet to Espenshade Hall. A conditional use for that addition was approved in June, with one of the conditions being making efforts to preserve trees. Dave Madary, an engineer with Derck & Edson, said at the Borough Council work session on Thursday, Sept. 5, that since then, the college brought in a professional arborist who determined that two trees were dying and could not be saved; he said the college plans to replace them with new trees of the same type.
The Borough Council plans to vote to approve or reject the land development plan at its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 19.
In another matter, councilors voted unanimously to reject a request that the borough establish stricter regulations than the statewide ones from the Pennsylvania Game Commission about trapping nuisance animals.
“Unless any of us have more expertise than the Pennsylvania Game Commission, I’d like to defer to their expertise,” Council President J. Marc Hershey said.
“If we had had this, I don’t know that we would have gotten the squirrels out of my attic,” Councilor Jeffrey K. McCloud said.
While discussing updates to borough ordinances, Council Vice President J. Neil Ketchum asked whether regulations to illuminated signs could limit how bright they are and how such a regulation could be enforced. Ketchum asked if there was a meter available to measure the light output of a sign; Public Works Director Jeff Kinsey said he imagined such a device exists. Ketchum said if it turns out to cost $100,000 he will be sorry he brought the idea up. Hershey suggested that the regulations on light output of signs should be different at night than during daylight hours.
During the public comment period, Councilor Bill Troutman asked about a letter he and neighbors had received telling them that their trees had to be trimmed so there is 10 feet of clearance above sidewalks and 16 feet above streets and alleys. Troutman asked how those figures were arrived at, noting that he has never seen a 9-foot-tall person on the sidewalks and that the tallest tractor-trailers allowed without special permits are 13 feet, 6 inches tall. Kinsey said the 10-foot clearance was not about pedestrians, but rather traffic signs. The bottom of the signs must be 7 feet from the ground and a sign is 30 inches high, Kinsey said; that would make the top of the sign 9 feet, 6 inches from the ground. Kinsey said he did not know the rationale behind a 16-foot clearance over streets and alleys; Borough Manager Roni Ryan said Council could change the required clearance with a new ordinance.
Also during public comment, Maple Street resident Carol Witmer repeated a request she had made previously about making Willow Street west of Market Street into a one-way street, saying drivers have difficulty getting through when traffic goes both ways. Police Chief Ed Cunningham said traffic counts on the street so far do not justify doing so, but he said he would bring traffic-counting devices back to the area, and he urged Witmer to ask neighbors to contact police about the situation.