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Lower Frederick BOS Passes New Tax, Truck Amendment

Residents objected as the board passed a local services tax, affecting all who work in Lower Frederick, and an amendment to the zoning code that limits the size of trucks in residential neighborhoods.

At its Oct. 2 meeting, the Lower Frederick Township Board of Supervisors passed a new local services tax for all Lower Frederick employees and an amended the zoning code to restrict the size of commercial trucks parked at residences.

Both pieces of legislation passed 2-1. Chairman Ernest Schmitt and Ron Kerwood voted in favor of the new tax and the amendment; Vice Chairman Bob Yoder voted against both.

LOCAL SERVICES TAX

All individuals who work in the township of Lower Frederick will be responsible for paying $1 per week, or $52 per year, to the township - regardless of where the employee resides - according Tom Keenan, the township's solicitor.

Keenan cited the example of a Perkiomen Valley Middle School West teacher who works in Lower Frederick Township but lives in Schwenksville Borough, who would be responsible to pay the tax.

The tax, previously known as the Emergency and Municipal Services tax throughout Pennsylvania, is used to support the budget of the municipality in which an individual works. Employees can be taxed up to $52 per year, according to Pennsylvania code.

There were objections to the tax, particularly given the economy.

"The township is not a white collar mecca of professional office workers," said a resident in attendance. "Kids who work at Ortinos or the CVS will have to pay a dollar out of their pay a week? It is unnecessarily burdensome."

TRUCK AMENDMENT

The more hotly-debated issue was the amendment to the "Parking of Trucks in Residential Districts" portion of the zoning code that will prohibit all trucks weighting 26,000 lbs or more from being parked in residential properties.

According to previous meeting minutes, the supervisors brought this amendment to the planning commission to solve a zoning issue that was brought to light after one or two resident complained, according to Kerwood.

Prior to the amendment, all residential properties were permitted to park two commercial vehicles with up to four axles at a residence overnight.

"I believe that this regulation was intended to prevent someone from parking a fleet of trucks at their house, but still allow residents to bring their work truck home at night or on weekends," stated an anonymous letter sent to Lower Frederick residents in opposition to the amendment.  "This allowance is important for an owner-operator, contractor, farmer, or other resident who depends on a truck to make a living."

Current vehicles will be grandfathered into the old ordinance, and anyone wishing to park a larger vehicle at a residence can apply for a conditional use permit.

There has been an ongoing debate on this amendment, which is chronicled in the township's meeting minutes.

The May 29 work session meeting minutes (attached to this article) reflect one such back-and-forth between residents and the board of supervisors.

At the meeting, resident Brian Lambert asked what caused the truck amendment, and Schmitt said there was a complaint in the community regarding commercial use within a residential district.

"The issue is, would it be OK if it is in every residential town lot in our township?" Schmitt said. "It could be the case the way the ordinance is written. It is not the problem now, but it could be."

Many residents at that work session meeting, a number of whom also attended the board of supervisor's meeting last night, objected, saying that the board's legislation to fix a problem that does not exist will hurt business owners in the area.

"Everyone at that meeting was against it, 100 percent, and they voted for it because they thought they knew better," said Lower Frederick business owner Joseph Hartman.

A similar amendment that limited a truck's weight to 9,000 lbs was proposed, and voted down, in 2004 after public outcry from truck owners. The township was run by three different supervisors in 2004.

Keenan said that residents asked if this decision was appealable - it is not.

"We are a local government," Keenan said.  "If you have a dislike for what is happening,  you have a vote [on Election Day]."

Lower Frederick Township Manager Tamara Twardowski is out of the office until October 15 and was unavailable for comment, according to office staff.

RJ October 03, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I believe that the truck amendment is ridiculous and that it will hurt the local businesses and residents that use these trucks for a living. Schmitt needs to get out of any position in lower Frederick
Rob October 03, 2012 at 07:40 PM
I think that on "Election Day" we may be voting in new "officials"
Sycamore Landscaping, Inc. October 03, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Wow...so someone who drives a tri-axle and maybe has an excavator can't park on his own residential lot. I'm not a resident of this township but I feel for anyone who decided to call this home. Someone needs to stand up to this board. Get the media involved to help raise money and take them to court. Federal court if needed. I can see the headlines now "small town working class pushed out of there own homes". How do these people think sewers are fixed or roads are paved. I bet they're the same people who want the best deal when there toilet doesn't flush on a Sunday because the line needs replaced. Well it's pretty hard to buy commercial property when everyone wants the best service for the cheapest price! If having a truck is how you make a living....they can't stop you. It's against the law, period..
Lee October 03, 2012 at 08:34 PM
The person who was the "one" complaint was present, and his trucks will be grandfathered...so then why penalize other law abiding property owners?? Are towns now using being "proactive" as their new rationale for law after law? I second the lady who spoke up and said if the town is not in debt, why pass a new tax. The supervisors said all the other townships do it! That also is NOT a proper rationale. Something is wrong.
Josephine October 03, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Communistic practices.Bob Yoder the only patriot in looking out for our freedoms.
Karl October 04, 2012 at 01:04 PM
"there was a complaint in the community." That is why they passed the ordinance? A complaint, as in singular, one complaint?
Brittany Tressler (Editor) October 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Hi Karl - The minutes say "one or two" complaints, a number of people I spoke with said the common sentiment in the community is that there was only one complaint. The "one or two" complaints statement is attributed to Kerwood in the article, and is in the attached minutes.
John Scioli October 04, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Here is another example of the government putting their noses where it doesn't belong . What will be next ? A tax on the size television you have ? Then a tax on how many axles your vehicle can have . Subsidize your income in other ways . Welcome to the Bolsheviks of Lower Frederick and their newly adopted policies. Way to go comrades . Wont be long before Socialism is a common place activity. There will be no revolution because every person nowadays has no spine or volition to do anything about the tyrannical rulers of our governing parties here in Amerika. Well great job way to go Supervisors . Thanks for the contribution to a better socialist world just like Barry Sotero wants . It is a sad day for true patriots like myself another day closer to Socialist rule .
Lee October 05, 2012 at 01:23 AM
More of us just have to attend our town mtgs and get involved. That is the main problem, we have allowed the progressive and their mindsets to infiltrate gov for so long that it seems perfectly natural to increase taxes. Rumor has it LF isn't even in debt, and yet they are imposing a new tax without a hearing and with opposition from residents. Please fwd this article to your neighbors...make sure they read it please. :)

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