In a press release issued this week Straban Township said it had not expected to be sued by the Gettysburg Area School District. “I’m astonished,” said Tony Sanders, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors. “We’ve been working with the district’s solicitor for months in good faith and then this suit comes out of the blue.”
In its Monday meeting, GASD announced it was opening legal proceedings because it thought Straban was imposing fees that might be in violation of Pennsylania case law and were “in violation of precedents set years ago.”
Straban said they had replied on April 29 to a letter sent by the district on April 20, saying they would “revisit, in its entirety, its land use permit fee schedule” and that “the board believes that it will be able to craft a revised land use permit fee structure that is reasonable and fair.” The letter informs the district that “the board is confident that the revised structure it intends to craft will ultimately result in a refund, of some amount, of the land use permit fee paid by GASD.”
Supervisor Fred Kammerer said the construction permit fee was not imposed by the township but by a third party code-enforcement agency, Pennsylvania Municipal Code Alliance, Inc. (PMCA) which serves as the Township’s Building Code Official. The Uniform Construction Code (UCC) provides that a third-party inspection agency may establish fees for the administration and enforcement of the UCC.
Clem Malot, President of PMCA said GASD had been given a 20 percent discount as a public entity and that PMCA’s fees are appropriate and reasonable. “I’ve offered to explain the fees to the school district on numerous occasions — they have yet to take me up on that. I’m still willing to do so, but this appears it is more about not paying any fees at all than an actual concern the reasonableness of the amount,” said Malot.
“It looks like the School Board members came to a decision with incomplete information” said Straban Township Supervisor Alan Zepp. “It’s a shame because the taxpayers end up losing.”