Twp. finds $19K waiting for homeowner
Escrow funds held after house fire years ago
By Peter Becker
Managing Editor
How would you like to find out you have $19,000 sitting in an account waiting for you to claim?
Some residents on Route 390 in Palmyra Township (Pike) will be notified soon that the funds have been in a Township escrow account ever since the family had a house fire perhaps three or four years ago.
This was the first topic discussed at the Palmyra Township (Pike) supervisors' meeting, Dec. 4. Administrator Jo-Ann Rose related that the bookkeeper brought the matter to her attention. The funds were put in the escrow account by the residents' insurance company to satisfy a Township ordinance.
Ten percent of the insurance proceeds are kept by the Township to ensure that the property is satisfactorily repaired or the site cleaned of debris. The intent is to prevent a damaged property from being abandoned, presenting a safety hazard. If the owner takes care of the property, he or she can come and claim the money. If the property is not addressed, the Township has the authority to use the money to pay for the site to be cleared.
Law does not allow the Township to collect any interest. The funds were apparently forgotten, or the homeowner might have overlooked a notification the insurance company would likely have given, that part of the funds were being held back.
The residents are back living in the house, which had damage inside.
"It's their money, not the insurance company's," Solicitor Anthony Waldron advised. "...As long as it's not a dangerous condition, we have no legitimate reason to hold on to it."
He recommended having a building inspector look over the building to see that it is safe, before releasing the money. Supervisor Ken Coutts said that when the homeowner is notified to tell them an inspector needs to visit, emphasize the $19,000. "They'll be a whole lot more receptive," Coutts said.
"Nice Christmas present," said Chairman Tom Simons.
Cleaning up
• Roland Edwards, Zoning Officer, showed pictures indicating a property owner in the Wilson Hill development off Atlantic Avenue is attempting to cleanup the yard. There is still a lot of junk lying around, and stuffed garbage bags piled high. Solicitor Waldron said that a court hearing was scheduled but postponed to Jan. 8 as the residents had not been served by the Sheriff's Office. Waldron suggested that if the residents get rid of the pile ahead of time, the matter will be resolved.
• A used back hoe has been purchased through an estate but Waldron said there appeared to be no title for it. Payment will be held while the issue is investigated. Coutts stated that municipalities need a license to take a back hoe on the road.
• A lot combination was approved for Jackland LCC at Simons Point.
• Verification in writing will be requested from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that five lots owned by Sam Shahar may be connected to the Deer Haven sewer plant, which Shahar owns. Shahar, whose house is on one of the lots, originally obtained approval for on-lot septic. The Supervisors want to ensure that the hook-ups would not take away from the planned, 308 unit Pocono Lakefront development.
• The traffic signal at Route 6/507 is operating again, now that the controls have been repaired. The signal had quit five times and had to be reset manually, said Brian Mathews, Maintenance Foreman.
• Commercial vehicles will not be permitted to carry in material to be recycled by the Township. Mathews explained that the Township does not have the capacity to take large volumes of material generated by businesses.
• Recycling is limited to residents of Palmyra Township (Pike). Proof of residency should be brought. Limiting use of the recycling service to their own Township residents is based on the fact that the Township is paying for the service.
• The next Supervisors' meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m. The first meeting in January will be held Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are held at the Township offices off Gumbletown Road. The office may be contacted at (570)226-2230.