By Kaylee Lindenmuth
ASHLAND - Borough residents came out to the borough council meeting Wednesday evening to voice concerns regarding a parking issue along the last cobblestone street in the county, as well as a $12 fee on residents' water bills.
A resident at Centre Street used the first public comment of the meeting to voice concerns about parking restrictions on North 4th Street in the borough, after a property owner adjacent to the street constructed garages along the side vehicles could park along.
According to the resident, the household as four vehicles, three of which had been normally parked on North 4th Street until the construction of the garages.
The property owners in question, Michael and Dorothy Yoder, of Ashland, appeared before the Schuylkill County Zoning Hearing Board in September to request a variance to construct a garage on their property at 339 Centre Street, which was granted.
According to the residents appearing at council, the garages are under construction, but the parking spaces formerly used by the residents are eliminated by the driveway for the garages.
"Is it okay for us to park on the opposite side of the street?" the resident asked.
"I think we already discussed that, because of the way the other side of the street is, I think (the property owner would) have an issue with the dip there. You'd be blocking, partially, the lane there," Police Chief Mark O’Hearn answered. "As long as you're not blocking it to the point where he can't get out of the garage, we don't see an issue with it."
Council Vice-President Barry Spieles assured the residents the matter would be looked into by council and their solicitor, and that, as long as traffic is not obstructed, they could park on the side of North 4th Street opposite the garages.
"So you will not be ticketing if they park on the opposite side of the street?" Councilwoman Kim McIntyre asked O'Hearn.
"As long as there's ample room for people to get through that street, we don't see a problem with that," O'Hearn responded.
In the final public comment portion of the meeting, another resident questioned a $12 fee added quarterly to resident's water bills for trash bins.
"Do you think you could consider getting rid of that, and only having people pay if they use it?" the resident asked.
"What that program did for us, it stopped the piles and mountains of garbage, and you get two hoppers a year, and that eliminates the build up and clutter," Spieles said. "That's a good program."
According to Spieles, the resident was only the second to question the program's fee, noting many had heralded the program in the borough.
The discussion quickly became fragmented among those in attendance until council regained the floor.
"The first year it ran, everybody loved it," Spieles said.
"I think it's a good idea, but I just think the people that are going to use it should pay for it, not the people that aren't using it," the resident added.
"It's always there to keep our town clean," Spieles added. "I think it's a good thing."
Councilman Francis Menne noted that other residents had brought up to him an opposite idea from what the resident at council brought up.
"Recently, I was in conversation on just the other side of the fence. People who pay for this service and don't use it, they're telling me they would be willing to, if they're not going to use those hoppers, donate those hoppers to help clean up the town, but still pay their fee, and I think that's an excellent idea." Menne added.
"I'm happy to pay the $48 a year. It makes our town cleaner," said McIntyre.
In other business, council: