Dog waste droppings

Credit: Lisa Parker/CC BY-SA 2.0 License Link

SOUTH WHITEHALL TWP., Pa. – South Whitehall Township will work on a proposed "quality of life" ordinance a bit more before deciding if it will become law. 

Some commissioners and residents said the law, which would address nuisances such as abandoned cars and junk in yards, was too vague. 

Former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning raised the issue of droppings, and how neighbors might turn each other in, at Wednesday's board of commissioners meeting. 

"It is going to result in intrusive enforcement measures," Browning, a Republican, said. "Some of these things are just idiotic," noting that an uninspected car in a driveway could be in violation, and a failure to pick up dog droppings could lead to a fine. 

"It greatly increases the power of township bureaucrats," Browning said of the proposal. He said township police should focus on crime, not "issuing tickets for dog poop." 

"The intention of this ordinance isn't for someone to go door-to-door and look at the poop in the backyard," President Christina "Tori" Morgan said. She said shortcomings in the law could be addressed later, and that similar ordinances elsewhere have speeded up the resolution of neighborhood problems. 

The vagueness issue cost the proposal a majority vote. 

"How does one objectively assess whether something is unreasonable or indecent?" Commissioner Michael Wolk asked.  

"Some of the language in here is very subjective," Commissioner Diane Kelly said. "It could create a whole lot more problems than the ones we're trying to solve." 

The ordinance may be brought up again, in revised format, at a future meeting. 

The board approved two building plans. A 90,100-square-foot "flex building" with no set purpose yet was approved at 1215 Hausman Road, after Wolk asked for additional conditions. Lee Butz owns the 10-acre tract.  

A plan to add 72 independent living units at the Luther Crest senior facility, 800 Hausman Road, was also approved. 

The commissioners also agreed to proceed with a potential bond issue to pay for improvements at Wehr's Dam, and to refund earlier higher-rate issues. The board will not make a final decision until later. 

After the meeting topped the three-hour mark, Wolk and Kelly complained that they cannot call staff members with questions. Morgan said personnel issues should be discussed in a private session. 

She added that issues should be brought first to the township manager, Renee Bickel.  

The next board meeting will be Aug. 4.

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