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Saxonburg, condominium association to share wetlands burden

| Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

After years of voicing concerns about wetlands encroaching on their houses, residents with the Saxonburg Village Condominium Association have some answers from the borough.

The main concerns come from residents closest to the wetlands who have reported damage to their houses.

“The foundations are starting to crack,” said Mary Papik, borough manager.

Papik and borough Superintendent Charles McGee met with representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection on July 10 to decide where the responsibility lies with maintaining the wetlands and drainage of an earthen dam associated with it. Because the water isn't draining properly, the wetlands are expanding.

The results lie somewhere in the middle, Papik told council at a meeting on Wednesday.

The borough can take care of vegetation from the middle of the road to 25 feet on each side of South Butler Street and Bella Drive. The rest will be up to the homeowners associations that own the land.

“We will be able to take care of the culvert on South Butler,” Papik said. “The rest is private property and the responsibility of the homeowners.”

Papik said the borough would help get information to the presidents of the associations.

She said the DEP allows home­owners to clear vegetation on the wetlands, but preferably not by mechanical means.

“They are allowed to cut out vegetation, rake it out and take it somewhere else,” Papik said. “What they can't do is redeposit it somewhere else in a wetland, and they can't let it lie.”

Papik said the Army Corps of Engineers will have to be contacted to take care of some of the problems with sinkholes and culverts because of the size of the watershed.

The wetlands have not been maintained since 2009, when the land developer was no longer required to do maintenance, including water and soil tests, on the wetlands.

Emily Balser is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-7710 or ebalser@tribweb.com.

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