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."
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.