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Cornwall Borough Council updated attendees on the status of the Open Pit water supply discussion and heard concerns from several residents at a regular meeting Monday, Jan. 8.

Monday’s agenda was fairly light, as council considered (and subsequently adopted a modified version of) the much-discussed Byler manufacturing amendment at its reorganization meeting Jan. 2.

Read More: Cornwall council unanimously adopts adopts Byler manufacturing amendment

Councilman Bruce Conrad updated both council and attendees on the possibility of Cornwall purchasing the Open Pit from Elizabethtown as a water supply.

Councilman Bruce Conrad explains the state of water and sewer issues.

Read More: Cornwall in talks with Elizabethtown to purchase the Open Pit water supply

Conrad explained that a meeting was held Dec. 21 between COLA, Byler Holdings representatives (as the open pit includes Byler-owned land), a representative of the Elizabethtown Area Water Authority, and a representative of the state.

“Two of us – Cornwall and COLA – do have a significant need,” Conrad explained. “Elizabethtown basically said they have enough water.”

Conrad said he is in touch with a representative of Elizabethtown to discuss options, and said that they are open to negotiating a financial agreement.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will visit the borough this week to discuss developing the wells in consideration at the site.

They will likely offer help financially and/or technologically, said Conrad.

Also in water and sewer, Conrad mentioned a significant water main break Friday, which cost the borough close to 800,000 gallons of water. The break has since been fixed.

Council unanimously agreed to send the Citizen’s Text Amendment, first proposed by Cornwall United in October, to Lebanon County Planning for feedback.

Council listens to public comment.

The county will have up to 45 days to make a recommendation to council, at which time they can choose to take action on the ordinance, make changes to it, or abandon it altogether.

Council president Bruce Harris said council held an executive session immediately before Monday’s meeting to discuss possible legal issues surrounding the amendment.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council refers citizen’s text amendment to ad hoc committee

Julie Bowman of Cornwall United voiced frustration that the Byler amendment was passed without any protections against Byler Holdings creating warehousing in their LI tract, as had been earlier implied.

Julie Bowman voices her concerns.

“There was always a little bit of a quid pro quo that warehousing was going to leave LI [if the amendment was passed],” said Bowman. “You’ve left a target on the head of Miner’s Village by not closing that immediately.”

Jeremy Zimmerman of Cornwall United and Bowman went on to point out that zoning officer Jeff Steckbeck had made comments surrounding the Citizen’s Amendment at the previous Planning and Zoning meeting, despite his also being contracted by Byler Holdings.

Jeremy Zimmerman speaks Monday.

Council’s general policy, Bowman said, was for zoning officer Josh Weaber to handle all zoning topics concerning the Byler property, so she voiced concern that Steckbeck had commented on their amendment.

Weaber told council that he agrees with Steckbeck’s feedback at the P&Z meeting.

Several in attendance echoed concern that Steckbeck is doing work both for the council and Byler. However, council noted that Byler was one of Steinbeck’s long-time clients from out of the area, and he was working with them before they had any stake in Cornwall.

On another topic, resident Jo Raussi voiced her concern with the council’s selection of Nate Walmer, who previously lost out on the position in an election by 14 votes, to fill former councilman Al Brandt’s term.

“Mr. Walmer, this is not about you personally, but I know there’s people more capable than you who could be in that seat,” said Raussi.

Read More: Cornwall Borough Council appoints Nathan Walmer to fill Al Brandt’s seat

She said of the five people who submitted letters of interest, she feels several other applicants would be more qualified for the position.

Jo Raussi speaks at Monday’s meeting.

Walmer attended no council meetings in 2023, as opposed to other candidates who participated more regularly, she said.

“Why would you not bring somebody on board who has at least been attending and knows a little bit about your business and what’s going on?” asked Raussi, adding: “You invited a friend, and I know that’s it because people have told me.”

Raussi also pointed out that of the seven people on council, only one – council vice president Beth Yocum – is a woman. Yocum had proposed appointing Bowman to the open seat, but all other councilmen were opposed.

“There are only 96 men to 100 women in Pennsylvania; where are the true representation up here?” said Raussi. “There should be at least one more woman, and Julie would’ve been a great candidate.”

Raussi went on to say that she has been disappointed in important discussions being “kicked down the road” by council.

“In 10 years, the citizens here are going to have to deal with the things you have not taken action on,” she said, citing the audio/visual upgrades, water and sewer items, and the installation of an emergency generator for the police department.

In other news, council:

  • Unanimously agreed to hire Matthew Rothgaber as a police officer, starting at patrolman 2 rather than probationary officer.
  • Unanimously accepted a time extension to consider the Cornwall Properties subdivision plan.
  • Unanimously agreed to grant conditional approval for Fitzgibbons’ subdivision plan, made up of lot line changes.
  • Unanimously agreed to hire a temporary part-time office worker at the rate of $20 an hour.
  • Unanimously approved minutes and reports.

Cornwall Borough Council meets the second Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. These meetings are open to the public and do not require prior registration.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.

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