Court over­turn­sam­bler Bor­ough’s trash col­lec­tion con­tract

Public Spirit - - FRONT PAGE - By Eric Devlin

Dis­cus­sion over the pos­si­bil­ity of chang­ing the zon­ing in the BETowned prop­erty across Limekiln Pike from Dresh­er­town Plaza was also dis­cussed.

BET has pro­posed a ho­tel, phar­macy, of­fice build­ing and res­tau­rant on the 9.54-acre site be­tween Susque­hanna Road and North Limekiln Pike. The plan has not been well-re­ceived by nearby res­i­dents or town­ship com­mis­sion­ers.

The par­cel is zoned A-res­i­den­tial but falls within the Dresher Over­lay, which per­mits other uses with re­stric­tions. A sug­ges­tion to change the zon­ing to multi-dwelling on the side near the ad­ja­cent res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment was pre­sented on be­half of the town­ship by Code En­force­ment Di­rec­tor Rick Bar­ton.

Multi-dwelling would al­low town­houses on the sec­tion near­est Golden Drive and per­haps also on a 2.97-acre ad­ja­cent prop­erty BET could pos­si­bly pur­chase, Bar­ton said. The town­houses would serve as a tran­si­tion be­tween the sin­gle­fam­ily homes and the other part of the par­cel, for which Bar­ton said the base zon­ing could be changed to CR-L, com­mer­cial-re­tail.

ede­vlin @mont­gomerynews.com The trash wars ap­pear to be over af­ter Ambler Bor­ough Coun­cil agreed to award a con­tract to J.P. Mas­caro & Sons at its Sept. 18 meet­ing.

In late 2010 the bor­ough so­licited bids for a threeor five-year trash col­lec­tion con­tract, with BFI, Mas­caro and Waste Man­age­ment sub­mit­ting bids.

BFI won the orig­i­nal bid, com­ing in at 34 cents per house­hold per week less than Mas­caro, be­fore a civil ac­tion com­plaint was filed Jan. 3, 2011, in the Mont­gomery County Court of Com­mon Pleas by Valdo Dra­gani, an Ambler Bor­ough res­i­dent, nam­ing both Ambler Bor­ough and BFI as de­fen­dants. The civil ac­tion com­plaint was filed based on com­plaints made by Mas­caro that BFI’s bid did not meet the bor­ough’s spec­i­fi­ca­tions in mul­ti­ple ways.

The de­ci­sion by Judge Bernard A. Moore found the three-year con­tract was in­deed non­com­pli­ant, re­versed the de­ci­sion made by the bor­ough and sent it back to the bor­ough to de­cide whether to ac- cept the sec­ond low­est bid from Mas­caro or re­bid and take the chance of hav­ing the price in­crease dra­mat­i­cally.

The de­ci­sion to go with Mas­caro’s orig­i­nal bid was seem­ingly not an easy one, as the board wres­tled with the idea of re­bid­ding and risk­ing a spike in price.

By go­ing with Mas­caro’s bid, Bor­ough Man­ager Mary Aversa said the bor­ough would tech­ni­cally be in the third year of the con­tract and doesn’t know what the cost would have been. She said the bor­ough is start­ing a three-year con­tract from prices from three years ago.

In other busi­ness, the bor­ough agreed to re­view its zon­ing or­di­nance in or­der to po­ten­tially al­low St. Joseph’s Church to lease out its cur­rently un­oc­cu­pied build­ing.

In an at­tempt for a small com­puter soft­ware com­pany to lease the build­ing, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the com­pany ex­plained that ac­cord­ing to the bor­ough’s cur­rent zon­ing or­di­nance, the build­ing is in an in­sti­tu­tional zone and use by the busi­ness isn’t per­mit­ted. While the cur­rent or­di­nance does al­low for pro­fes­sional of­fices, the busi­ness wouldn’t fall un­der what the bor­ough con­sid­ers a pro­fes­sional of­fice, such as a doc­tor’s or lawyer’s of­fice.

The other op­tion the soft­ware com­pany could have taken was to get a vari­ance that would al­low for the com­pany to be an ex­cep­tion to the cur­rent or­di­nance with­out hav­ing to change the text. The prob­lem with that op­tion was an is­sue of tim­ing. The busi­ness is mov­ing out of one build­ing and needs to be in a new build­ing be­fore the lease on the old build­ing is up in or­der to make a smooth tran­si­tion. By ask­ing for a vari­ance, too much time would be needed be­cause it would re­quire go­ing to the zon­ing hear­ing board first, then go­ing to coun­cil in or­der to ap­prove the vari­ance.

Coun­cil agreed to re­view a text amend­ment to the zon­ing or­di­nance af­ter it was made clear that no cus­tomers would be en­ter­ing the build­ing, the busi­ness was not af­fil­i­ated with the church, it could be taxed and the bor­ough could tai­lor the new lan­guage of the text to make sure there would be no dis­rup­tion to res­i­den­tial ar­eas.

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