PALMER TWP., Pa. – Palmer Township will spend as much as $500 more next year on a plan to reduce the population of feral cats.
At Tuesday’s Palmer Township supervisors meeting, Assistant Township Manager Brenda DeGerolamo said No Nonsense Neutering of Allentown will charge the township $40 per cat next year, up from $35. The nonprofit group operates in several counties in eastern Pennsylvania and promotes a "trap, neuter and return" strategy that is designed to reduce the population of feral cats gradually.
Colonies of feral cats – animals that live outdoors and have never had close contact with people or were domesticated at one time, but now live in the wild – are a problem near some businesses in the township, DeGerolamo said.
The township set aside $3,500 last year for the neutering of 100 cats. David Colver, chairman of the board of supervisors, said that if the allowance were not raised, Palmer would only be able to provide for the "fixing" of 87.5 cats at the new price. The supervisors agreed to spend as much as $4,000 in 2020 for the TNR program, to cover up to 100 cats.
Palmer declined the neutering service's suggestion that the township designate an employee to make sure people requesting the service are residents. That was proposed to ensure that residents of Bethlehem Township, which has a zip code overlapping with Palmer, do not get free neutering. Billing will continue through No Nonsense.
The supervisors – Colver, Ann-Marie Panella, K. Michael Mitchell and Robert E. Smith – approved the new contract. Jeffrey Young was absent.
Before dealing with cats, the supervisors greeted Palmer's new K-9 officer, Szultan. The 18-month-old German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix is trained in detecting explosives, along with patrol, tracking and apprehension duties.
Officer Colby Kuronya and Szultan trained together in western Pennsylvania. The two will work together and Szultan will live with Kuronya when off-duty. Kuronya said Szultan can detect 12 different odors that indicate explosives. Tuesday was Szultan's first day on the job.
Police Chief Larry Palmer said dogs that can detect explosives are relatively rare in the region, so Szultan may assist other departments. The township has two other dogs, both trained in narcotics work.
Two residents of Northwood Heights told the board that the recent conversion of a single-family home to a two-unit building risks changing the character of their neighborhood.
Carol Pundiak of Sherwood Road said a recent zoning ruling allowing the conversion could lead to other single-family homes turning into multi-units.
"You're going to see a lot more of this," she warned the supervisors.
The township could end up resembling Wilson Borough or West Easton, with small apartment houses and absentee landlords, she said.
Colver said the supervisors are aware of the issue and did not agree with the zoning ruling. Palmer is reviewing its zoning ordinance. Public hearings will be held before a new ordinance is approved early next year.
Judi Lohner of Bridlepath Road said the conversion already approved over neighbors' objections will not be reversed, but the township needs to set better rules to protect neighborhoods.
"We don't want any more people to do this," she said.
Township Manager Robert Williams presented a list of vehicles and equipment that were listed for sale on Municibid, an eBay-like service for governments. The supervisors approved the sales for a total of $51,421.