SHICKSHINNY – On a 3-1-1 vote, council adopted a resolution Wednesday night that provides for the payment of $15,000 to settle one man's September 2011 lawsuits over materials dumped on his property.
Richard Kuchta alleged that debris and waste material was dumped illegally by the borough on property he owns along an alley known as River Lane, adjacent to the Susquehanna River.
Michael G. Crotty of the law firm of Siana, Bellwoar & McAndrew LLP, of Chester County, said the resolution is not to be construed as an admission of any liability or wrongdoing, but rather an agreement to expedite all outstanding disputes and save any additional expense by the plaintiff and defendants.
The settlement was entered Wednesday in Luzerne County Court.
During the vote, Councilman Kevin Morris stipulated that he was abstaining because he was named as a defendant in Kuchta's action. And although she signed the agreement, council President Rosalie Whitebread cast the only no vote. Councilmen Jim Wido, Barry Noss and Mike Steeber voted in favor of the resolution.
In discussions between the parties, council denied that its employees or agents caused any materials to be deposited on Kuchta's property. However, Kuchta contended he sought to resolve the dispute during previous public comment segments of council.
He said he incurred some personal expense to have the debris removed and when council failed to respond to his pleas, he chose to take legal action.
He is represented by James Brando of the Mountain Top law firm of William L. Higgs. Remittance to Kuchta will be through the borough's insurance carrier, Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Risk Management Association .
After the council meeting, Kuchta said historical research he has done reveals the site to have been utilized by American Indian tribes, and as such he is preserving the tract as an area for recreational and social functions, as well as its historic value.
In another matter, council fielded a complaint from Jule Moore about the lack of leaf pickup and recycling this autumn. Whitebread said it was a matter of costs; borough funds are lacking. But after discussion, Steeber proposed that a special three-day pickup be instituted. Council voted to have borough crews collect bagged leaves starting on Nov. 12 and concluding on Nov. 16.
A meeting to discuss 2013 budget preparations has been scheduled on Nov. 28. On the same day, contractor bids for work at Crary Park, a recreation site and boat launch along the Susquehanna River, will be tabulated by engineers of the Quad3 Group and presented to council for adoption.
In other matters:
• Rick Harmon reported the state Department of Environmental Protectionhas issued citations and notices of violations in relation to oil and gasoline spills at the site of a proposed 1st Keystone Bank building along Main Street. Hasay Chevrolet formerly existed there.
• Harmon said third, and final, warning notices are going out to owners of flood-damaged property. He also said a flood-relief trailer parked near the river is in violation of FEMA regulations.
• Council voted to approve the use of $4,000 in state liquid fuels reimbursement for the Vine Street project.
• After discussion, council approved renaming the Shickshinny-Mocanaqua Bridge the Veterans' Memorial Bridge.
• In response to questioning by Councilman Morris, Melissa Weber, secretary/treasurer, said $25,000 in flood relief funding provided by the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation was dispensed through a nonpartisan committee consisting of Brian Caverly, Pastor Terry Hughes, Gary Powlus, Councilwoman Whitebread and Weber.
She said council was not directly involved in making allocations.