(Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comments from Comcast)
Less than two months into the work to bring Comcast to Lititz, the permits to install cable service lines in the borough have been suspended.
After numerous complaints about the work being done by Comcast’s contractor, Lititz Borough has pulled the permits until mistakes have been corrected on the borough-wide project that will eventually allow Comcast to provide cable TV internet services.
Once completed, residents will have the option to select from Blue Ridge Communications or Comcast for cable TV and internet services.
But the current issue is with Comcast’s underground wiring contractor, Cable Services Co., according to borough officials and customers.
The contractor is supposed to install the lines in the right-of-way between the curb and sidewalk. In several cases, the lines were mistakenly installed on the residents’ property, according to borough officials and residents.
One resident, Vincent Anzalone, of Skylark Road, attended the June 25 meeting of Lititz Borough Council to express his concerns. Anzalone was upset when contractors placed the lines 4 1/2 feet onto his property, putting a large green pedestal box in his lawn. The box was supposed to be in the strip between the curb and sidewalk.
He was dismayed about damage to his property and said that neighbors were also concerned about the mistakes that are being made, such as crooked caps, chipping driveways, and extending outside the easements onto private property.
“I fought for my country, I’ll fight for my land,” said Anzalone, a U.S. veteran, who moved to Lititz to settle in the community.
Just as Anzalone reported, the green boxes are as much as two feet above ground. In some cases, they are extremely close to driveways, and in others, they appear to have been moved from private lawns. Damaged lawns have been covered with straw and resodded.
According to Lititz Borough’s Director of Community Planning Elijah Yearick, the permits have been pulled until the issues are corrected. Only then will Cable Services Co. be allowed to resume installation of the underground lines.
Yearick reported that among the streets where residents have been complaining are Skylark and Partridge. The areas in the borough that have underground utilities, are about one-third completed. The whole of the borough, most of which has above-ground utilities is only about one-tenth completed.
The streets that were completed first were Keller, Danbury, and Arrowhead. The next streets were Oxford, Conway, Aspen, Birchwood, Laurel, East Sixth, South Locust, South Cedar, East Fourth, East Third, and Apple.
The remainder of the streets that were underway when the permits were pulled include Raspberry, Brindled Tern, Cambridge, Market, Brookfield, Noble, Andover, Deerfield, North Oak, South Oak, Forney, Plum, Partridge, Pennwick, Hummingbird, Royal Tern, Arctic Tern, North Elm, West Grant, Chickadee, Skylark, and Cardinal.
Robert Grove, Comcast spokesman, said the company is aware of the problem and expects work to resume soon.
“The majority of Comcast’s work in Lititz has been performed as expected by the borough, and we are working hard to address a relatively small number of issues raised by homeowners,” he said Wednesday. “We apologize for these inconveniences and look forward to soon resuming our network extensions in the borough and preparing to serve Lititz residents.”
Letters were sent out in advance to residents in the borough who lived on blocks that Cable Services Co. would install underground wire by Edward Huddle, company supervisor.
Contractors have been using a method of construction that enables them to bore under the sod and ground so there is less open trench within the front yards. Restoration of the worksite dig areas was supposed to be done immediately, which has not been happening in all cases. Once the conduits are placed, the electronics to the cables would be spliced, enabling connections to the system for residences who request the service.
“Any damage to curb, sidewalk, or street trees should be brought to the borough’s attention immediately,” said Yearick. “Most of the work is being done on the grass strip between the curb and sidewalk, which is part of the borough’s right-of-way. They should not be installing outside the right-of-way without an easement from the property owner.”
In other business, Lititz Borough Council approved several requests relating to water and wastewater services, including tank inspection services and filter media replacement services. They decided to hold off on sewer interceptor relocation at Lititz Reserve, where the lines date back to the 1950s. Since the request to relocate the sewer interceptor was made only weeks before the deadline of late July and costs were uncertain, council decided to take no action. The next deadline for the second phase will be May 2021, and the borough will have more time to decide with more information.
Laura Knowles is a freelance feature writer and regular contributor to the pages of the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at email@example.com.