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Lawyers hope to iron out storm water system issues

February 02, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Issues delaying a $6.3 million storm water project in the Borough of Waynesboro are closer to being sorted out, lawyers involved in the matter said Wednesday.

"We're working cooperatively to get this resolved," said Sam Wiser, solicitor for the borough.

Owners of three properties in the south end of town have objected to eminent domain proceedings started by the municipality. Borough officials said they needed easements on six properties and owners of three of those properties would not sign over the easements.

The borough filed a "declaration of taking" on Dec. 1, 2010, in Franklin County Court. The affected property owners — Russell C. Weikert and Rose M. Halterman; Patricia A. Crouse and Larry L. Crouse Jr.; and Steven L. and Susan L. Bumbaugh — responded with objections Wiser said could take some time to work out in the court system.

He said the delays could affect a low-interest loan awarded by the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority, commonly called PENNVEST.

On Wednesday, Wiser and the property owners' attorney, James Stein, spoke during the Waynesboro Borough Council meeting. Stein addressed statements made by council members in January.

"I read the newspaper reports after the last meeting and could feel the burning frustration through the newspaper pages," Stein said.

Council members said they were frustrated because the objections were filed by the same people who complained about flooding in their yards and homes due to the undersized storm water system. Councilman Ronnie Martin was quoted as saying he was prepared to ask that the project be killed, despite the money already spent for engineering.

"I want to put your minds at ease. We have no interest in stalling this project any longer than necessary," Stein said.

Stein, who earlier said the issues could be resolved out of court, met with Wiser on Wednesday. They called the meeting productive.

"I anticipate we'll be well on our way (to resolving the issues) before your next meeting," Stein told the council.

Objections listed in court documents include surveying marks they say don't match drawings and proximity of storm water drainage materials to existing buildings.

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