Lebanon City Council’s May 24 monthly meeting featured a short agenda and the announcement by council chairman Joe Morales that online Zoom meetings, after 13 months, are a thing of the past.

Council unanimously authorized Mayor Sherry Capello to sign an easement agreement with Lebanon County that will help clear the way for construction of the John E. Wengert Memorial Park in the 1400 block of Chestnut Street. The site is across from the former Lebanon Catholic High School, and extends north to Cumberland Street and west to the city line at 16th Street.

When finished, Wengert Park will include a yet-to-be-completed section (Phase 6A) of the Lebanon Valley Rail Trail.

The easement will allow the city access to the Quittapahilla Creek flood channel and to certain sewer facilities which it is responsible to maintain.

Council also approved the first readings of two proposed ordinance amendments that would raise the filing fee for some appeals that require hearings to $600. The ordinances involved are parts of the International Fire Code and the International Property Maintenance Code that have been adopted by the city.

Capello explained that the average cost to the city to conduct such hearings, which are infrequent, is slightly above $600. The fees, which haven’t been increased for over 10 years, are currently $250 for fire code hearings and $225 for property maintenance code hearings.

Pennsylvania law limits the hearing costs that can be recouped, so the city will still be losing a small amount of money for hearings at the $600 level.

Council unanimously approved both proposed amendments on their first reading. They will be advertised and placed on the June meeting agenda for public comment and a vote.

Capello reported that, with 2021 about 33% over, year-to-date revenue and expenses were 37% and 24%, respectively, of annual budget projections.

No more Zoom meetings

Before the meeting officially started, Councilman Chris Miller asked no one in particular, “This is going to be the last one on this dumb computer, right?”

Chairman Morales answered just before adjournment by announcing that, starting with the June 24 pre-council meeting, City Council meetings “will be held in-person, in council chambers, so I’m sure everyone is thrilled about that.” He added that any masking guidelines still in effect will be followed.

Council last met face-to-face in April 2020, before COVID restrictions were imposed.

City Council’s next “pre-council” planning meeting will be on Thursday, June 24 at 4:45 p.m. The next regular monthly council meeting will be on Monday, June 28 at 6:30 p.m.

Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in Council Chambers, Room 210, Municipal Building, 400 S. 8th St., Lebanon.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...