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FEMA community may remain until Sept.
[January 31, 2013]

FEMA community may remain until Sept.

Jan 31, 2013 (The Daily Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Athens Township supervisors Wednesday agreed to grant state emergency management officials the ability to maintain the Federal Emergency Management Agency's temporary living community on Wilawana Road until fall.

Supervisors voted Wednesday to give permission to the township's code enforcement agency, Code Inspections Inc., to allow PEMA to extend the community's certificate of occupancy until September. The certificate's 18-month term had been set to expire in March.

Supervisors had initially granted a conditional use to the property, owned by Mike Austin, for the 18-month period with the option to extend it by six months if necessary, explained supervisor Ron Reagan. The site has about 17 mobile units remaining, several of which are still occupied, out of the 58 originally placed on the site following the Sept. 2011 flood, supervisors said.

While the board's action gives emergency management opens the door for the community to stay put, FEMA officials or Austin may still decide to remove it once the 18 months expire if an extension is not deemed necessary, Reagan said.

Supervisors also authorized secretary Robin Smith to send a letter to the state Department of Community and Economic Development requesting an extension of a grant toward the construction of the proposed Road C. The $1.25 million grant, which Smith said the township received in 2011, would expire in June without the extension request.

The letter explains that an extension is needed because the Road C project has had several delays related to the acquisition of properties in the proposed road's right-of-way.

Supervisors Wednesday also approved the renewal of four leases of the township's communications tower located near Round Top Park that were set to expire in 2013. Several organizations lease use of the tower from the township, Smith said.

Supervisors voted Wednesday to maintain lease rates with the Athens Area School District and Valley Energy, which each pay $600 annually, and Robert Packer Hospital, which pays $500 per year.

Supervisors also voted to continue a lease with Indigo Wireless, which has paid $5,000 per year in the past but will increase its payment by 20 percent upon the lease's auto-renewal in October. Indigo Wireless also maintains the tower for the township, Smith said.

The funds generated by the tower lease payments go into the township's parks and recreation fund, Smith said.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email:

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