The unanimously decided last week to give an unidentified Upper Milford three more chances before taking official action against him for failing to comply with a township sewer hookup ordinance.
The resident in question holds the dubious distinction of being the only homeowner among the 90 households in the sewer project subdivision known as “Vera Cruz Area I” who failed to respond to any communication related to the sewer project.
Township Manager Daniel DeLong assured the supervisors at the board's March 1 meeting that the Lehigh County Authority has done its due diligence in attempting to contact the resident, stating that the homeowner has signed for three certified letters.
The supervisors, he said, would be well within their authority to take action, since the 60 days leeway for response given to homeowners in the sewer connection ordinance has long since expired in this case.
All three supervisors expressed discomfort with taking legal action against the resident. Supervisor George DeVault, who said he lives within the sewer project and has found the paperwork sent to residents to be confusing, was the most vocally opposed.
“It seems like a logical next step would be to talk to him,” DeVault said. “The least we could do is contact him in person. The least we could do is make the effort before we start hammering people with legal proceedings. He may have signed for three letters, but different people comprehend the written word differently.
“I mean, can this person read, or was this just an X that he signed,” DeVault asked.
Township solicitor Marc Fisher assured the supervisors that there is an actual signature on the certified letter receipt cards. But, he added, that the board is not obligated to start legal proceedings for non-compliance with the sewer ordinance.
“The intent of the ordinance is to get compliance not fines,” he said.
Supervisor Robert Sentner said repeatedly that he would feel badly about taking official action, but that the supervisors “can not pick and choose which ordinances we uphold.”
Ultimately, the supervisors voted 3-0 to try to contact the resident again, using three different means of communication.
“We will make one more call, try one more knock on the door and send one more certified letter. If we strike out, then we’ll take action to bring him into compliance,” said DeVault, summing up the board’s decision.