Trafford Borough

Discussion Meeting Minutes – Tuesday, September 15, 2020


The Trafford Borough Council held a discussion meeting on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at 6:00 p.m., VIA Zoom.


Council President Cardiff called the meeting to order and led a Moment of Silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.


Members in Attendance:

(Present)                             Kris Cardiff, President                       Edward Llewellyn, Mayor

                                             Steven Perovich, Vice-President      Ashely Stack, Borough Manager

                                             Zackery Cole, Councilmember         Dane Dice, Solicitor

                                             Chris Corrales, Councilmember       Adam Hlad, Code Enforcement Officer

                                             Ralph Deabner, Councilmember

                                             Leslie Peters, Councilmember

                                             Casey Shoub, Councilmember           




Councilman Cardiff and Borough Manager Stack both agreed residents and parents could decide whether to participate or not. 


Councilman Shoub questioned if the VFD is planning on working the major intersections as they have in the past as it is a big help for safety issues.  


Manager Stack stated she has not heard that they were not. Manager Stack stated she assumes the VFD is waiting to get the official word if Trick-or-Treat is still on. 


Councilman Cardiff recommended placing Halloween onto the October meeting’s agenda.  


Councilman Perovich stated in the meantime; someone should reach out to the VFD to determine if we have their support and, if not, go another route. 


Manager Stack asked Councilman Cole if he could handle reaching out to the VFD. 


Councilman Cole stated he would, and if the VFD cannot, he would reach out to other individuals that could. 




Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated he had researched other communities and Thomas Castello, the Zoning Solicitor. Mr. Castello is not only the Zoning Solicitor for Trafford but in several other communities. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated he has also spoken to Trafford's BCO. After speaking with all of the mentioned individuals, they all attested our current ordinance and its restrictions pertaining to a corner lot are common. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad does not recommend making changes to the ordinance as it is important for sight safety and police visibility. In Mr. Stultz's case, he can go in front of the Zoning Hearing Board for a code determination hearing or a variance request. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad recommends Mr. Stultz have a code determination hearing, and if it is determined that Officer Hlad's interpretation of the code is correct, then Mr. Stultz may proceed with a variance request. 


Mr. Stultz stated corner lots are not mentioned nor the obstruction of any view. Mr. Stultz was hoping the code would provide more clarity for those who wish to have a fence. Mr. Stultz stated for those who own a lot that abuts an alley have the same issue as those who own a corner lot. 

Mr. Stultz stated there are dozens of fences in town that do not meet the current code. The code does not specify why some homeowners can have a six-foot fence versus others who can only have a four-foot fence. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated the code does not use the term corner lot, but it does state the following in chapter 103-2-B-2 B. No fence shall be constructed which exceeds any of the following height limitations:

 (2) Forty-eight inches wherever the fence shall be located on any portion of any lot that abuts a street, intersection, or common drive that empties onto a public street. A corner lot does abut a street, intersection, or common drive. 


Councilman Deabner questioned if a homeowner has a six-foot fence, and it falls down; the new one would need to be constructed at four-foot even though the original fence was constructed prior to the 2006 ordinance. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated that it is correct. 


Manger Stack stated, or the homeowner could request a variance. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated the individual would know whether they would need a variance during the permitting process. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad agrees that the wording in the code could be cleaned up. The ordinance committee is working on several codes that leave enough grey area; however, the fence code does not leave any grey area.  


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad recommends changing some of the wording in code 103-1; No person, corporation, partnership, company, or other entity shall construct, install, add to or alter a fence in the Borough, unless a permit is secured therefor. In his opinion, if someone is only replacing a few fence boards, it's a bit rigid to have to apply for a permit. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated ordinances are for the public as a whole where a variance is specific to the applicant. 


Mr. Stultz stated the current ordinance does not encourage residents to buy homes in Trafford. There are no positives to the current ordinance. Anytime an individual wants to put up a six-foot fence, it's going to cost them an extra $500.00 for special permission when the code can be changed and re-written with more clarity without having to pay $500.00. In no way does that benefit the residents. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated there are supplementary regulations in the Zoning Code for visibility at intersections. 


Manger Stack stated Tom Castello, the Borough's Zoning Solicitor, and the Borough's BCO, who also work for other municipalities, have reviewed Trafford's fence code and is very common in other municipalities. 


Mr. Stultz stated it seems as this code is only benefiting the Borough financially. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated the fees are to cover the court reporter's costs, the notification letters, the attorney, the posting, and the legal notices. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated the administrative office has discussed implementing a residential variance fee at the rate of $350.00. Other permits are split between residential and commercial. 

Mayor Llewellyn stated had Mr. Stultz applied for proper permitting, he would have been informed at that time that a six-foot fence is not permitted on his lot. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated, yes. Mayor Llewellyn stated it would not cost residents $500.00 because they would be informed prior to construction. 


Mr. Stultz stated had he applied for the permit; he would still need to apply for the variance for special permission for a six-foot fence. 


Manager Stack stated the Borough does not make any money off of variance hearings. The Zoning Hearing Board Attorney is $125.00 per hour. The court reporter is also $125.00 per hour. A minimum of $375.00 per hour is expended, not including Code Enforcement Officer Hlad's time, advertising, postage, and notifications. 


Councilwoman Peters asked for clarification on the language or fence type between a solid fence and a chain-link fence. A six-foot solid fence cannot be permitted due to visibility issues; however, maybe a six-foot chain-link fence may be permitted. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated some municipalities have specific verbiage on solid vs. not. 


Councilwoman Peters stated she understands Mr. Stultz's point because she purchased her home because it had a fence for her dog. It is a five-foot chain-link fence with an alley behind. Councilwoman Peters questioned if Mr. Stultz explored the option of a chain-link fence.


Mr. Stultz stated he would still have the same issue whether the fence is a solid or chain-link. Mr. Stultz stated that he went with a privacy fence to keep his family away from outsiders and protect the residents from his animals escaping.


Councilwoman Peters stated there needs to be some clarification on height restrictions and fence type. 


Mr. Stultz questioned why there is a need for the police to see into backyards. It is called a privacy fence for a reason, regarding the $500.00 even if the Borough isn't making money, and the code was changed to where residents wouldn't have to pay $500.00 or waste the solicitors time. 

Councilman Cole stated there is a reason for the privacy fence, and it should be at the discretion of the homeowner. Councilman Cole stated he understands safety, but, in his opinion, it is not the police's business what anyone is doing in their backyard. That would be assuming that residents are breaking the law when they are just trying to keep themselves and their pets safe. Councilman Cole stated he does not personally agree with the ordinance and doesn't feel that we should keep the ordinance just because everyone else has it. A lot of properties could benefit from erecting a privacy fence. Councilman Cole feels that Mr. Stultz's fence has improved the look of the street and neighborhood. Residents should have the opportunity to put up a fence of choice for the property that they pay taxes on. Councilman Cole stated the code needs to be changed completely. As long as the fence is safe, then so be it. 


Councilwoman Peters mentioned code 202-21; Visibility at intersections. It speaks to being able to see driving safely, not a matter of the police being able to see into your yard. It is a matter of people being able to see at that intersection. 


Councilman Cole stated he agreed with that code; however, using the argument that the police need to see into your backyard is a non-issue. Councilman Cole again stated the police do not need to see into anyone's backyard. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated he is not trying to make the argument on behalf of the police; however, he has confirmed with the zoning solicitor, the Borough's Solicitor, and BCO that it is a true statement. Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated there is value with something being in plain sight; however, I cannot speak for the police again. 


Councilman Deabner questioned, is it the police's intent to be able to see as they're driving by? Councilman Deabner stated on a hill with a four-foot fence; you will not be able to see.


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated it is a matter of plain sight for police and traffic patterns visibility. 


Code Enforcement Office Hlad replied to Councilman Cole's comments by stating he appreciates his comments; however, to use caution when it comes to ordinances and why people don't want to cut their grass or fix their failing retaining wall. 


Councilman Cole stated he doesn't feel a six-foot fence is a safety issue, and residents should use their property as they see fit. Councilman Cole suggested purchasing drones as a safe alternative if this code changes. 


Councilman Perovich questioned how many fence permits were issued. Councilman Perovich stated this is an international code and is very common. Perhaps we need to clean up the wording. 


Manger Stack stated the bottom line, Mr. Stultz, would need to either request a code determination hearing or a variance. If the council chooses to make changes to the current code, Mr. Stultz will be held to the existing code guidelines as the fence was constructed before any changes to the code have been proposed. 


Zoning Fees


Manager Stack proposed a non-refundable Residential Zoning Hearing Board Application Fee of $350.00 plus any additional costs incurred by the applicant. We would change the current $500.00 non-refundable fee to commercial. If the council agrees, Manager Stack stated she would place this fee amendment on the October agenda for a vote. This fee change shows that we are trying to work with the residents.


Manager Stack added we had not had any other issues regarding a fence or height restrictions. 


Mr. Stultz disagreed with Manager Stack by stating he has spoken to a ton of residents who are planning on replacing or erecting a new fence and have all expressed the need for a six-foot privacy fence. Mr. Stultz stated his concern is if your property abuts a road, the fence can only be four-foot. Mr. Stultz stated that the code section needs to be re-worded or re-worked because it doesn't make sense when not impeding any view. Mr. Stultz stated his fence is not directly on the sidewalk; it sits on an elevated hill and is fifteen feet back from the roadway. Mr. Stultz stated he would pay the $500.00 variance fee, but he requests the code be changed to eliminate the six-foot height restriction for other residents who do not impede on sight distance. 


Councilman Cole agreed with Mr. Stultz. 


Councilman Cardiff questioned what the next course of action would be. 


Manger Stack stated that if the council chooses to change, the ordinance council needs to decide what language is changing and approve an advertisement at the next meeting. 

Councilman Cardiff stated the code revision committee would handle that. 


Councilman Deabner stated the committee has several codes that need to be addressed. Once that list has been completed, we will present it to Solicitor Alexander and then to the council.


Councilman Cole questioned if there have been many variance hearings since the pandemic. 


Councilwoman Peters stated they are on an as-needed basis. 


Manager Stack stated they are not very common. 


Code Enforcement Officer Hlad stated this is a lengthy process and several codes that need to be addressed with Solicitor Alexander before the council's review. 


Manger Stack stated a number of changes would be proposed for the 2021 fee schedule; however, since this is a pressing matter, only the variance section will change on the 2020 fee schedule. 


Additional Business


Mayor Llewellyn questioned if there was an update from Port Authority. Manager Stack stated she had not received any update. 

Mayor Llewellyn questioned how long the Borough is going to let this go. The busses are now parking on the right side of the road and tearing up that section. 


Manager Stack stated that it is up to the council. Council can send PAT a letter with their demands. Manager Stack stated PAT is working on the agreement with Haymaker, and it seemed to be going well. 


Councilwoman Peters questioned if cones could be placed further up to prohibit the busses from parking there. 


Manager Stack stated that is why the jersey barriers are there, and they still park there.


Councilwoman Peters questioned if there were any additional barriers to be placed closer to the roadway. 


Manager Stack stated she would check with the engineer being 993 is a state road for right-of-way purposes. 


Councilman Shoub stated there might be additional jersey barriers that can be placed there. 


Manager Stack stated if the council wishes to proceed with a letter, she will work on it with the Solicitor. We are still receiving calls from residents that do not want to lose the bus service. 


Mayor Llewellyn stated we aren't removing services; we are re-routing the service, correct? 


Councilman Shoub stated, yes, that is the current goal. 


Mayor Llewellyn stated ultimately, it is the Borough's road. If PAT cannot abide by the regulations on where to park, they need to either repair the road or develop a different route. It doesn't make sense for us to keep allowing them to destroy our roads, and us having to fit the bill for it. 


Councilman Cole questioned if there would be any reason why a bus would be traveling down Sixth Street. Councilman Cole stated earlier this evening a bus was traveling down Sixth Street from the Polish club towards Route 130. 


Councilman Perovich stated we need to notify PAT of this as they have not been allowed on Sixth Street for years. 


Councilman Cole stated it seems as PAT has no regard for our roads and that they have an attitude that they can do whatever they want. 


Mayor Llewellyn suggested the council write a letter as this has been discussed for four months now. 


Councilman Corrales stated we have been generous with time. 

Councilman Perovich stated they need to be notified that they have x-amount of days to provide us with a response. 


Councilman Cardiff suggested drafting the letter to be placed on the next agenda. 


Manager Stack questioned what the deadline would be. 


Councilman Cole suggested November 1.


Councilman Deabner stated 30 days from the date of the mailing. 


Manager Stack stated she would discuss this with the Solicitor. Manager Stack stated she would also email the liaison regarding the busses on Sixth Street. 




Councilman Cardiff announced the next regular council meeting for Tuesday, October 6, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.


The meeting promptly ended at 8:03 p.m.