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Damascus board approves fiber mill

By Fritz Mayer
December 21, 2011

The Damascus Township board approved the establishment of a fiber mill on Calkins Road for Adam and Elizabeth Thumann, scheduling a conditional use hearing for Monday, January 16 at 6:30 p.m.

The mill will process raw wool into a form to be used to create various products. Though there are three other fiber mills in Northeast Pennsylvania, more are needed, according to township officials.

The closest fiber mill is the Worthington Acres Alpaca Mill in Dyberry. The number of sheep and alpacas in the area is growing steadily, according to agriculture agencies.

In other matters, one of the most pressing issues in the township is a hoped-for grant from Federal Emergency Management Agency and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency amounting to over $270,000, which the township has already spent on repairing roads as the result of recent storms.

“Pennsylvania and our area have been declared disaster areas and are eligible for such funds,” said Ed Lagarenne, Damascus Emergency Management Coordinator. “We are hoping that the inspectors can get here before any snowfall, and see what we need.”

The state contributes 75 percent to the grant and the federal government 25 percent.

In other board action, the board is in the process of developing a policy to deal with dangerous buildings that may need to be demolished.

“We have sent the building ordinance to our attorney, Jeffrey Treat, and our planner, Carson Helfrich, for review,” said Ernie Mattern of the township planning commission. “After that, we go to the county for its input.”

Jeffrey Dexter, chairman of the board, announced that the New York City reservoirs are nearly 95% full, a dangerous condition if there is another serious storm. The board urged the Upper Delaware Council to do what it can to persuade New York City to mitigate the problem.

The board continues to oppose House Bill 1100 and Senate Bill 1950 that limits the municipality’s use of zoning ordinances to control some aspects of gas drilling.

“We are a home-rule state and these rights should not be taken from us,” Dexter said. The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and other municipal-related agencies are also opposing the legislation.