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A new burst pipe policy that could save New Wilmington residents hundreds of dollars in water bills has been approved by New Wilmington borough council.

Explaining the change at Monday night's meeting, councilman John Geidner said "once or twice a year" someone with an unexpected, unusually large monthly water bill might come to the borough seeking assistance.

"We're calling this an accidental discharge of water," Geidner said. "What we see is the person gets a bill well in excess of their regular bill. It could be the result of a pipe broke and water poured out, unknown to the homeowner. We sometimes see this with landlords, their tenant moves out and the place sits vacant. If a a pipe breaks, it could be weeks before anyone is aware. We're willing to give them credit when this happens."

He added that "it's happened" that someone went away for a week or two and left the water running. "This accidental discharge of water, that could run up the bill by tens of thousands of gallons of water," he said.

Geidner said the borough has now set an upper limit of what the persons is responsible to pay.

He said these "accidental discharge" bills will be recalculated based on the person's last three months' bills and their bill will be an average of those bills, he said.

Geidner said the policy was created, "because we're trying to be nice. We're trying to be a good neighbor to borough residents. This could lower a $1,000 bill to $370. That's a $650 savings."

Geidner also said the borough expects to hear next month if it will receive a state grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to fund the borough's streetscape program.

The borough, planning a $2.4 million streetscape project, he said, is seeking 70 percent of the amount through the state and will provide 30 percent as a local match.

Geidner said the application was submitted in July and said the borough is working with the Lawrence County Planning Commission, who is serving as its grant consultant.

The borough also voted to purchase a remote mobile radio meter reader made by Itron. The unit will read water and electric meters and will cost about $8,000.

Noting that he has received several noise complaints in the past few months, Carmen Piccirillo, the borough's police chief, was authorized to contact The Fractured Grape on South Market Street by letter, documenting seven recent noise complaints and notifying the business that it will be cited under the borough's disorderly house ordinance if the situation continues. 

Piccirillo said complaints come from residents of houses and apartments behind the business and noted that the music appears to be amplified by the alley behind the establishment. "It's loud," he said.

He added that the complaints come in after 9:30 p.m., and said the back doors are closed and the volume is turned down each time the police show up.

"But it keeps happening," Piccirillo said. "It's like a joke. They seem to want to see how loud and how long they can go before the police come and tell us to turn it down. We owe our citizens some level of compliance and I feel seven warnings are enough"

"We've been getting noise complaints since September 2018," Piccirillo said after the meeting. "But it's only recently, only since they've began having entertainment, that the complaints  increased." 

Borough superintendent Brad Latimer reported that a pre-construction meeting will be held regarding the Maple Street Extension bridge project. The bridge, which serves the borough's municipal garage, has been closed for some time, he said. He anticipates that construction to replace the span could begin by February if weather is cooperative, and to reopen in the spring.

Council also:

•Agreed to provide $500 for the borough's Halloween Parade on Oct. 26. An additional $500 will come from the borough's economic development committee. Mayor Sherie Babb made the request, noting that the parade represents a 30-plus year tradition that the borough does not want to give up.

•Accepted a $1,892 bid by Taylor Engineering to do an engineering survey.

•Agreed to contact the Cohen Law Group of Pittsburgh to review an agreement with Verizon Wireless regarding utility pole attachments. In September, Verizon notified the borough that it will install two utility poles to improve internet services.

•Will continue negotiations with a proposed code enforcement officer and will forward to him a proposed contract outlining a job description and hourly compensation.

nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

Reporter

Nancy Lowry is a reporter at the New Castle News. Email her at nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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