by Jonathan Weaver
A construction permit was approved early this month to build a Veterans Affairs clinic in half of the former-Foodland grocery store in East Franklin Township.
The former grocery store, which was an anchor in Hilltop Plaza, has been vacant for six months – ever since an S&T Bank branch moved to a new space in the Hillcrest Shopping Center in West Kittanning.
The grocery store, which opened in 1992 and employed as many as 125 people at one time, closed in September.
Construction must begin within 180 days of the permit, according to Building Code Official Grant Kanish, or the permit will expire. A final inspection must also be held.
Supervisors also announced they will be selling a small plot of land in Tarrtown.
The space near Center Drive has decreased to about 20-foot wide and 40-foot long according to Supervisor Dave Stewart, due to the road widening.
A neighbor has already shown interest in purchasing the land, but it still must be put up for bid to be put on the tax rolls.
Tim Bowser of Adrian recommended setting a minimum bid so that the sale could offset legal and advertising expenses.
After some discussion, supervisors set a minimum $500 starting bid after a recommendation by Supervisor Dave Stewart.
“We just have to wait to advertise and we’ll be in business,” Stewart said.
Supervisors still have the right to reject any bid.
In other news, County Community Division Director Jennifer Bellas will send out community surveys today for the next township Community Development Block Grant project.
Supervisors hope to use the money toward upgrades at the Cowansville sewage treatment plant.
The last estimate was that the Cowansville plant updates would cost about $156,000, Bellas said. After lateral connections, there still might be about $25,400 left.
“And if you allocate all of your 2015 money – which was $92,945 -, you would have a balance for that particular project of about $63,100,” Bellas added.
That money can come from either 2016 CDBG allocations or township funds.
The second public hearing in regards to the current allocation will be held soon – usually before the regular supervisors meeting.
Supervisor Chair Barry Peters noted the general problem of municipalities not receiving enough surveys back to do projects. The sewage plant upgrades will also depend if enough surveys are returned.
“We have that problem everywhere,” Bellas said. “A lot of people don’t want to provide us the income information – it’s not an exact figure; it just asks if your household makes above or below based on the number of people in your household, but some people are just very private about that.”
Bellas said she and possible one other assistant are the only County representatives that would look at the information, and once documents exceed the record retention people, documents are destroyed.
Last year, supervisors were going to split their allocation toward sewer laterals in Furnace Run and Walkchalk and the sewer upgrades, but only 56 of the necessary 85 surveys were returned.
“Any of those that don’t come back we have to assume are above-income so it does affect the project benefit area,” Bellas said.
Bellas hopes this year’s surveys are returned by Wednesday, September 9. She is not sure how many surveys must be returned to go forward with the project – based on houses for sale or vacant.
Sealcoat work was completed by Youngblood Paving, according to Road Master Ron Lithgow’s monthly report.