Written by Dan Miller
New downtown parking regulations that would include doubling the existing fines for parking violations in the downtown were approved for advertisement by Middletown Borough Council during its Tuesday Jan. 3 meeting.
The proposed change would increase from $15 to $30 the fine for a parking violation if paid within 48 hours.
The fine for after 48 hours but before a summons is issued would increase from $30 to $60.
The maximum fine for a parking violation in the downtown would go from the current $75 to $150.
The proposed ordinance must receive a second and final approval from council before it can go into effect. Council approving the ordinance for advertisement makes the proposal available for public inspection and comment, before council can consider final passage at an upcoming meeting. Council did not set a date for final passage.
The downtown parking district that is impacted by the proposed changes includes the south side of Brown Street east of the intersection with South Union Street to Pine Street, the north side of Brown Street from Pine to Union streets, both sides of Poplar Street from Brown to Mill streets, and both sides of Mill Street from Union to Poplar Street.
Changes in downtown parking regulations have been long sought by downtown businesses whose cause has been championed by Councilor Robert Reid.
The concerns of downtown businesses mostly focus upon on-street spaces that the businesses say are taken up for days at a time by people who use the nearby Amtrak train station. This makes the spots unavailable for customers of the businesses, downtown business owners say.
The proposed ordinance also sets time limits for a number of parking spaces and areas within the downtown parking district, and establishes several special purpose parking zones.
Proposed medical marijuana ordinance also approved for advertisement
Council during the meeting also approved for advertisement a proposed ordinance that would dictate where a medical marijuana dispensary can be located within Middletown.
A medical marijuana dispensary would be allowed as a use by right in commercial and manufacturing zoning districts within Middletown, according to the proposal. However, the ordinance does not supersede a provision in the state’s new medical marijuana law that a dispensary cannot be located within 1,000 feet of either a school or a day care facility, noted borough Solicitor Adam Santucci.
The proposed ordinance also means that a medical marijuana dispensary - or a medical marijuana grower/processor facility for which the proposed ordinance also provides - cannot be located in any residential district in Middletown, said Councilor Diana McGlone.
Carlisle and Steelton are among municipalities in the region that have already approved ordinances governing where a medical marijuana dispensary can locate. McGlone said having the ordinance in place is crucial for the borough to compete with other municipalities seeking to attract one of the limited number of medical marijuana dispensaries that will be permitted by the state under the new law.
Kapenstein confirms recent meeting with Lower Swatara officials on regional police; announces public meeting to be held
In other news, Council President Ben Kapenstein said that council plans to hold a public meeting on the subject of police regionalization sometime in January or February. A date for the meeting has not been set yet, Kapenstein said.
Kapenstein made the statement after being asked during the public comment period by resident Rachelle Reid about a recent meeting on police regionalization that was held between Kapenstein and Mayor James H. Curry III and with Lower Swatara Township officials, including Commission President Jon Wilt and Frank Williamson, the township’s public safety director/assistant manager.
Kapenstein described the meeting as “positive” but that “nothing detailed” was discussed.
“We’re keeping a dialogue open and seeing where things go” regarding the possibility of the borough and the township entering into some kind of shared or regional police arrangement, Kapenstein said.
Mayor - Interim chief has been selected but still going through background checks
On a related note, Curry said that he has made a job offer to an individual to serve as interim chief of the police department to replace John Bey, whose resignation as chief of the Middletown Police Department was effective on Friday, Dec. 30.
Curry said that the appointment is subject to the person successfully getting through background checks and all the other “red tape and hoops” that go with appointing someone as interim chief.
Curry declined to identify the person he has chosen as interim chief, until the candidate is able to successfully complete the background checks and other requirements. Curry also would not say whether the person he has picked is someone who is now with the Middletown Police Department, or whether it is someone whom the mayor is bringing in from outside the department.
Curry would not say how long he thinks it will be before the candidate gets through this process. However, the mayor said he expects the process to be completed for the interim chief to be in place “very shortly.”
The mayor noted that he made the job offer to the candidate before Bey departed on Dec. 30.
Curry said that he as mayor has been in charge of the police department since Bey left.
New full-time zoning and codes officer hired and on board
In other news, Borough Manager Ken Klinepeter announced that the borough has hired a new full-time codes and zoning officer, Mark Shipkowski, who was in the audience. Shipkowski's first day was Tuesday, Jan. 3. He replaces Jeff Miller, the borough's previous full-time codes and zoning officer, who resigned in December 2015.
Shipkowski is a life-long borough resident.
The council also issued a proclamation in honor of the late John Hoerner, the former mayor of Highspire, who died unexpectedly at age 62 overnight from Dec. 23 into Dec. 24.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 22:52
Action on advertising an ordinance that would include changes in downtown street parking regulations is on the agenda of the Tuesday, Jan. 3 meeting of Middletown Borough Council.
Here is the agenda, as provided to the Press And Journal by borough officials. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in council chambers.
BOROUGH COUNCIL MEETING – January 3, 2017
Call to Order – 7 PM
Pledge of Allegiance
Public Comment on Agenda Items
9. Authorization to Obtain Letters of Interest for Actuarial
Services for Non-Uniform Pension Plan
10. Authorization to Reject Offer from PA DCED for Additional Home Buy Out Program
Note – General public comment will be limited to 4 minutes per speaker
Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 January 2017 09:12
Written by Jason Maddux
Middletown police are investigating the death of a 2-month-old baby on Lawrence Street on Friday evening.
Detective Gary Rux said officers responded to an unresponsive baby boy who went to sleep on the couch with a family member at a home there.
The cause of death is not known.
"That will probably be uncovered by the autopsy, which will be done by the Dauphin County Coroner's Office on Tuesday," he said.
Rux said that police do not know if it's a criminal case yet. The department is being assisted by the Dauphin County Criminal Investigation Division.
Friday was Rux's first official day as a detective, although he had been working in the department in an unofficial capacity.
Last Updated on Thursday, 12 January 2017 09:36
Written by Dan Miller
Penn State being in the Rose Bowl is clearly good business for Harrisburg International Airport.
Roughly 1,850 people will be flying out of HIA on 12 different charter flights starting 6 a.m. Friday, said airport spokesman Scott Miller.
About 1,100 passengers will be flying out of HIA on seven different departing charter flights Friday, from 6 a.m. until the last flight at noon.
Another four charter flights carrying another 750 passengers will be flying out of HIA for the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31. Flights are taking off at 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and 10 a.m., Miller said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 29 December 2016 17:08
Written by Dan Miller
Look for two recent Middletown Area High School graduates - John Ponnett III and Fabiola Hernandez - among musicians performing in the Penn State Blue Band during the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl game itself on Monday.
Ponnett, a 2015 MAHS graduate who was class Valedictorian, plays trombone in the Blue Band.
Hernandez, a 2016 graduate, plays clarinet in the Blue Band.
The son of Stephanie Ponnett and John Ponnett Jr. of Middletown, Ponnett was a four-year member of the MAHS marching band program, participating in the marching, concert, and jazz bands.
He was a two-year member of the Pennsylvania Music Education Association's District 7 Concert Band, a one-year member of the District 7 Jazz Band, and a four-year member of the Dauphin County High School Concert Band.
Ponnett served as MAHS Band President during his senior year and earned the John Philip Sousa Band Award for his dedicated service to the program.
Hernandez is the daughter of Moises Hernandez-Barajas and Maria Arias-Nunez of Middletown.
She was recognized as one of the most musically talented high school students in the eastern region of the United States when she was chosen to perform in the 2015 National Association for Music Education All-Eastern Honors Ensembles.
Hernandez was also chosen to perform with the Dauphin County High School Band, the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association District 7 Band, and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association Region V Band.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 December 2016 18:05