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The North Lebanon Township Board of Supervisors on Monday agreed to direct special counsel Josele Cleary to prepare an ordinance forming a Lebanon County Regional Police Department, merging the North Lebanon and North Cornwall police.

The ordinance would formalize the charter worked on by the regional police steering committee and form the Lebanon County Regional Police Department Commission to oversee the new department.

If it is adopted in both townships, they will continue to move forward with merging the departments and developing additional documents and policies as needed.

Supervisors Ardy Snook and Gary Heisey voted to direct the writing of this ordinance, while chairman Ed Brensinger opposed.

“I just think we’re not going to see the money savings that we think we are,” Brensinger said when Snook asked his reason for opposing the merge. “I’m not convinced it’s the best thing for the residents of our township; I think it’s being driven by people outside of our township that will gladly see it happen.

“I think if those folks want to see a county force, then let them go form a county force. I was elected to serve the residents of our township — not North Cornwall, not South Lebanon, not Cleona Borough. I feel we’re not doing our residents justice by moving forward with this.”

Heisey noted that he is pushing for an addition to the charter that, should the merge exceed a 7 percent increase from the planned budget or otherwise cause dissatisfaction, either township can back out without penalty.

“I’d like to be protected so that if there’s something that pops up, that we can back out without costing the taxpayers a lot of money,” he explained. “We are working with North Cornwall to come up with some type of plan, but we gotta keep the ball rolling so we can start working on other options — pension plans, the full contract with police officers, what is going to be invested in this township.

“I told you guys I was going to dive into this and we’re going to continue to look into it until we have the best plan possible.”

This is because, while the presented budget anticipated the department to be a money-saver for the township, most of its figures are estimated. Some companies will not provide cost estimates until a charter is adopted, Heisey said.

Read More: Former NLT manager airs concerns with police pact, committee reviews budget

The ordinance will most likely first reach the board at its June meeting, at which point supervisors may elect to advertise it for a public hearing. Then, most likely in July, the public will be able to voice their opinions before the board makes a decision.

Heisey has previously voiced willingness to hold such a hearing in a larger venue than the township building, which has limited seating.

Supervisors also heard public comment at Monday’s meeting.

Resident Ann Pinca responded to the topic of transgender athletes using township fields, which was brought up by a resident at last month’s meeting.

Read More: North Lebanon Township supervisors approve Mt. Pleasant subdivision plans

She urged the township against bans on transgender students.

“Maybe I’m wrong, but my guess is that most kids in youth sports don’t really care about transgender kids playing beside them, only their parents do,” Pinca said. “I truly hope that my township does not act on any suggestion of preventing a transgender problem that doesn’t exist.”

Brensinger responded that the township has been advised by its solicitor to avoid potentially discriminatory action, and that such restrictions (or lack thereof) will ultimately be up to larger government bodies.

“This is government, publicly owned lands that we’re talking about,” said Brensinger. “The last thing we can do is be discriminatory against any group or individual who does or doesn’t play on our playing fields.”

In other news, supervisors:

  • Unanimously agreed to adopt Ordinance #2-2024 amending the 457b Pension Plan to correct an oversight and appoint the Board of Supervisors as the plan’s trustees.
  • Unanimously agreed to approve the Briar Ridge Commons subdivision plan (PDF) as well as two waivers for the plan’s scale and distance of adjacent improvements shown.
  • Unanimously agreed to accept a $13,000 Marcellus Shale Grant from Lebanon County Commissioners, with a 50 percent match that can come from in-kind services. $25,000 was requested, and the application included improvements at Lenni Lenape Park including tree planting, a new walking path, trash bins, and benches.
  • Unanimously agreed to advertise an ordinance requiring the owners of private fire hydrants to annually test hydrants and keep them maintained.
  • Unanimously agreed to accept with regret the resignation of Sgt. Koons after 27 years of service.
  • Unanimously agreed to reduce the Hostetter letter of credit by $50,600, leaving $2,700.
  • Unanimously agreed to grant the reservation of the Lenni Lenape Park pavilion to Travis Zimmerman for a disc golf fundraiser May 27.
  • Opted against pursuing stormwater improvements on Janet Avenue in response to a resident complaint, as costs just for a design were estimated at $12,000 or more.

The North Lebanon Township Board of Supervisors meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m.

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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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