14 November 2022- A three hour long meeting on Monday night ends with the borough approving a new budget, deciding to NOT make any changes to the Rail Trail, and appointing a new probationary CPD officer among other things. One of the last meetings of any kind in the borough left in 2022, Borough Council enacts a series of changes to borough code while solidifying their work for the next year.
The night began on an upbeat note with the appointment of a new member of the Chambersburg Police Department, pending his passing through the Police Academy in Harrisburg. Cole Robertson, originally from St Thomas, is a graduate of James Buchanan High School in Franklin County. Robertson is also a 9 year veteran of the United States Army. Approved unanimously, a picture of Mayor Ken Hock swearing in the future CPD officer can be seen above.
Council continued to plow through the night’s agenda, with the previously discussed 2023 budget being voted on to be enacted as a tentative budget. With zero questions, comments, or concerns from both the citizenry of the borough as well as councilmembers, the budget was passed unanimously. Borough Council President Allen Coffman seemed pretty surprised by the lack of input the voting public gave to the budget, but approved it nonetheless. An informal count of people who viewed the budget online sat at 44 at time of the meeting, with zero in person requests of the paper copy found in the Borough Manager’s Office. Additionally, the borough’s Capital Improvements Plan and Street Project List for 2023-25 was quickly approved.
A large portion of the discussion of agenda point 7.04 surrounded on the development of the former Moose Hall on Sheller Avenue. This was resolved with council approving development.
Southgate Shopping Center continues to be a point of contention and debate for borough council, as well as their constituents. The creation of a “Southgate Neighborhood Zoning Overlay District” to better serve the zoning needs of that area was voted on by council, returning an approval vote of 9-0-1, with Councilmember Elia absent from the meeting and unable to vote. The main point of contention was the size, which some saw as too large with others saying it was too small. The Southgate property is around half the size of the Southgate Neighborhood Zoning Overlay District. Certain members of the public expressed their frustration with the future of parking in the area, especially because it is so close to a number of churches in the area which hold Sunday services and funerals. On the other hand, members of the public also expressed concern that the Overlay District did not extend far enough, effectively creating an island of large investment in the community with it being surrounded by “blighted” residential and commercial neighborhoods. Nonetheless, the measure was passed with ease.
The final point of contention from Monday’s meeting was the idea of removing snow and ice from the mile long Rail Trail that runs through the borough of Chambersburg. With the Rail Trail becoming increasingly popular not only for leisure activities but people commuting to work, some members of the public constituency have asked for council to approve money with the public works department to clean it off for winter use. Already tabled once, council heard from both proponents of the project as well as those who said it was too costly and could be a magnet for injury litigation. The final decision, however, was made to NOT clean the trail due to the previous factors.
Full council meeting can be found below.