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Lower Nazareth Township says "no" to police coverage by Colonial Regional Police

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Jun 12 2013 11:24:45 PM CDT
LOWER NAZARETH TWP., Pa. -

The Lower Nazareth Township Board of Supervisors gave Nazareth Borough Council a succinct answer whether the Colonial Regional Police Department will provide police coverage to the borough during Wednesday night’s meeting.

"No."

By a 5-0 vote supervisors cited potential litigation and personnel problems as a fissure to declining the offer.

Chairman Eric Nagle said the township had received a letter from Nazareth Borough Council President Daniel Chiavaroli seeking a “definitive answer” from the township prior the borough’s June 25th workshop meeting regarding a police purchase agreement with the Colonial Regional Police Department with the potential to become a member of the three municipalities – Bath, Hanover and Lower Nazareth Townships – who comprise the department.

“At the present time it’s not wise for Lower Nazareth to have them (Nazareth) go with us,” said Supervisor Robert Kucsan.

“It’s a shame there is litigation involved,” added Supervisor Gerald Green. “…It’s probably not in our best interest.”

“Not at this time,” noted Supervisor Martin Boucher to the request.

Nagle instructed Solicitor Gary Asteak to send a letter to Chiavaroli and the borough council documenting the vote.

In other business Wednesday night, supervisors followed up on an issue regarding residents’ complaints about rowdy and unlawful behavior related to a “group home” that houses autistic residents along with their caregivers at 4504 Stephanie Drive, according to the minutes from that meeting.

At the May 12th meeting, neighbors lamented the caretakers “poor behavior which includes speeding, foul language, drinking, smoking and loud music,” according to official township meeting minutes.

One neighbor, Michael Vonelli stated at that meeting that “his family does not feel safe and feel like prisoners in their home” with the shenanigans.

On Wednesday night Asteak reported that “there were no incident reports for one month” regarding the property with police reports. He added that he had “looked into our (zoning) ordinance and compared them to ordinances of other municipalities. And our ordinance has it pertains to group homes is on par with most municipalities seem to look at it.”

This answer failed to mollify Vonelli who said Wednesday night the home in his opinion was a “poorly-run facility” hiding behind the autistic individuals who reside there. It was his opinion that the township should closely review the township zoning laws, such as other townships throughout the country have done. He added that it was his view the township was not being proactive enough on the issue, and was, in effect, doing a disservice to the township residents.

“I just think the council (supervisors) need to be a little more understanding to the people in our community who live here, pay taxes and not be ridiculed against,” Vonelli said.

While supervisors were cognizant and even sympathetic of the complaints, they argued that Vonelli’s issues should be taken up with the police and not the supervisors.

After holding the floor for several minutes offering his opinions, Nagle directly asked Vonelli to “cut to the chase” and explaining what, exactly, he wanted the board of supervisors to do.

“To simply recognize the zoning laws should be looked at, so that’s what happening to us right now doesn’t have to happen up the road or down the street,” Vonelli said. “I have given up on you guys doing something proactive…I’ve said before this list of ingredients is not going to make a rainbow. And I stick by those words.”

Supervisors voted to table the issue and review documentation from Asteak before revisiting the issue at the next supervisors’ meeting.