When: Council meeting, Oct. 4.
What happened: Council hired Michael R. McKenna to become the borough’s new manager, succeeding longtime manager Robert Thompson, who is set to retire Jan. 15. McKenna, 31, is borough manager of Myerstown. He was selected from a field of 21 applicants. He will go through a job familiarization process before taking over for Thompson.
Quotable: “Ephrata Borough is a fantastic place with a rich history,” said McKenna, who accepted the appointment via Zoom. “I thank you for this opportunity.”
Also: About 70 residents of the Lincoln Heights section of Ephrata jammed into borough hall to protest a sketch plan by Richard L. Sensenig Co. to erect 24 semi-detached homes and three garages on land adjacent to the roofing firm. The land is zoned residential medium density.
Public comment: Twenty-one residents took to the microphone to lodge their concerns, including increased traffic, additional excessive noise, impact on the school district, property values, inserting rental homes in a neighborhood of single-family dwellings, and creating a stormwater basin on land with underlying layers of unstable limestone. Marie Avenue resident Jolene Weaver said she endures the prevailing noise of “revving of trucks and flatbed engines, tow motors loading, unloading, reloading, restacking, and slamming metal.” Chad Weaver said the neighbors do not wish to be unreasonable and would like to come to some agreement with the roofing firm. However, he said, “they are not being good neighbors to us.”
Legal advice: Borough solicitor James McManus said the sketch plan presented by Richard L. Sensenig Co. is basically “designed to solicit comments” and hear what “various entities” such as council, planners, engineers and neighbors have to say. He said he understood the concerns of the neighbors but said the borough’s options are limited. If the plan is prepared and follows all the codes and provisions, “council would have to clear a very high bar to deny approval.” McManus said 24 units is a “minor” project.
What’s next: All comments made at the meeting, along with the names of all the attendees, will now become part of the sketch plan submitted back to the developer. McManus suggested the neighbors might have more success by “opening a line of communication with the developer” with regard to concerns on noise, screening and traffic.