Representative Moul speaks to Lake Heritage Residents at Town Hall Meeting

Representative Moul speak to Lake Heritage Residents at Town Hall Meeting

On April 20, 2016 Representative Dan Moul in a Town Hall meeting hosted by Mike Hanson and Tom Gary spoke to a crowd of about 80 Lake Heritage residents for two hours about: 1) the Pennsylvania DEP’s new regulations affecting dams and spillways; and, 2) his efforts and the efforts of other legislators in similarly affected districts to offer an affordable bond to cover potential removal of the dam and restoration of Plum Run in the event of a breach of the dam.  In a complex narrative that resists a short explanation, Representative Moul explained the difference between a law and a regulation.  Laws are passed by votes of the legislature but regulations are put into effect by a department or other bureaucratic governmental entity typically without any legislative oversight.  In a practical sense they are equally enforceable.

moul03It is compliance with the DEP’s new (as of 2012) and more stringent standards that will potentially have a financial impact on lake property owner associations and similar lake ownership groups.

Representative Moul explained that as things now stand, Lake Heritage is working and will continue to work with the DEP to move toward compliance.  Mike Hanson, our community manager, said we have had for some time a meaningful and constructive dialogue with DEP officials regarding compliance.  At this point of time an exact dollar amount to bring the dam and spillway into compliance is pure speculation.  Mr. Hanson further explained that we do have an engineering firm as our principal consultants who are guiding us through the process step-by-step in what will be a long road toward compliance.  In addition, we are in communication with other lake centered communities that face this identical challenge.

Representative Moul reported that he and other legislative colleagues are proposing a law to establish a type of state directed consortium of property owner associations with bond issues similar to Lake Heritage.  As this writer understands it, the bond is to provide DEP with the assurance that funds will be available should the Department have remove the dam and restore Plum Run in the event of a breach of the dam.  This legislation would in essence be a risk pool and expense shared by property owner associations and other lake owner entities at a low and reasonable rate of 1% of the bond per year.  While Representative Moul was very optimistic that such a law creating this fund would be signed into law, he took pains to point out the number of people who live in a lake-centric environment with dam and spillway compose perhaps <1% of the general population of Pennsylvania and thus, do not constitute a huge block of voters.

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Residents were given the opportunity to question Representative Moul about DEP procedures, the role of the legislature in the process, the unreasonably high standards of the DEP regulations, various methods of compliance, and where Lake Heritage is in the process of meeting all regulations.  Mr. Gary, Mr. Hanson’s co-host, Board of Director, LHPOA Treasurer and chair of the Spillway Committee at times focused in on the new standards, stating that it is 30 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. For now, the ability to withstand such a statistically remote climactic event with no damage to the dam’s structure is the new standard.  Repeatedly it was pointed out that all tests performed by our engineering consultants indicate that our dam and spillway are built to last and are in excellent condition. However, they are not in compliance with the newest DEP regulations.

Several Lake Heritage residents questioned Mr. Representative Moul expanding the narrative to include items such as class action suits, FEMA involvement, the absurdity of the new standards, etc.  Allow me to end with an exculpatory statement. This writer claims no expertise in any of the issues addressed above and this is merely an honest effort to give a rough and ready “man on the street” description of the Town Hall’s content. As Representative Moul repeatedly said “don’t shoot the messenger”, this writer asks for similar protection

George Thorsen

 

 

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