Derry faces decision on zoning services

| Tuesday, April 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Derry Borough council is planning to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to chose a provider for zoning officer services.

Officials are under pressure to act because a temporary, 45-day agreement with Avalon-based Building Inspection Underwriters of Pennsylvania has expired.

The matter was tabled at Monday's regular council meeting when several members indicated they hadn't been able to review a written proposal from a competing provider, American Building Inspection Services.

“The fee schedules are all pretty much the same,” council President Kristine Melville said, noting both firms have offered to handle zoning, Uniform Construction Code, code enforcement and occupancy permit tasks for the borough.

Bob Sieminkewicz, who previously had served as the borough zoning officer, discontinued providing the service in December in a dispute over a change in his compensation that was proposed by former council members who have since resigned. The dispute centered on a proposal to pay Sieminkewicz an hourly wage rather than his previous salary.

Sieminkewicz told council on Monday he is interested in returning as zoning officer if the borough will pay him according to his previous salary agreement.

“I've got 15 years of experience,” he told council members. “I would entertain doing it again.”

“The law says we have to have a zoning officer,” Mayor David Bolen noted. “What do we do until we pick somebody?”

Solicitor Lee Demosky advised that it was best for council to delay action until members have reviewed the various proposals. “I don't think this board should enter into an uninformed decision,” he said.

Council did lay the groundwork for a planned 2013 paving project by awarding a contract for the work to Tresco Paving of Pittsburgh, at a cost of $247,665.20. Among areas slated for resurfacing are portions of some of the most heavily traveled streets in town including portions of South Chestnut Street, Y Street, Ligonier Street, Second Avenue, Second Street, West Third Avenue and Crusher Way. Due to a drainage problem, paving also will occur on Owens Avenue, substituted for Hannastown Road.

Paving originally was planned for last year but was delayed due to extensive excavation of several involved borough streets for work on Peoples Gas lines.

Chad Fabian, who chairs the public works department, explained gravel that Peoples' subcontractor used to fill excavated ditches is undergoing compression testing by a Coraopolis firm to make sure it meets PennDOT standards. If the gravel does not meet specifications, he said, it will have to be replaced before the ditches can be covered with asphalt patch material.

Council President Kristine Melville said, as soon as asphalt companies begin producing patch material for the spring construction season, she expects the gas company will begin work to restore the ditches.

Council also passed an ordinance declaring stagnant water that is allowed to collect in outdoor swimming pools a public nuisance.

Another new ordinance is meant to crack down on loud vehicle sound systems, prohibiting those that cause “unreasonable noise or loud sound that causes inconvenience or annoyance to persons of ordinary sensibilities.”

Councilman Jim Struble expressed concern that the noise ordinance might be difficult to enforce.

Melville indicated that task could fall to the borough's police force or an ordinance enforcement officer, once the latter officer is on board.

Jeff Himler is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2910 or

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