WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Township officials have begun to use land adjoining Interstate 81, even though the formal ownership of the property has not been passed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
The move comes after a promise from state Sen. Raphael Musto that a Senate bill authorizing the sale of the land to the township would be passed this year.
The move to use the land now also was prompted because the municipality was about to break ground next Monday on a new $750,000 police station attached to the township building and had no other place to park the police and municipal vehicles, township officials noted Wednesday.
Various steps had been taken over the past few years, including the negotiation of land prices and terms of agreement between the township and PennDOT.
But the state Legislature had not passed the bill authorizing municipalities to buy appropriate stretches of land from the PennDOT right of way, which had delayed the final step, Mayor Carl Kuren said.
Musto was committed to seeing the bill through to resolve that problem, the mayor said.
Council had also been advised of some commercial progress in the township, with the formal opening of the new Sonic restaurant scheduled for Friday. It’s located at the site that had been occupied by Kentucky Fried Chicken at the entrance to the Wyoming Valley Mall. Amid closings and layoffs, the opening was good news, the mayor noted.
In other business, the township has not yet been advised of the status of the Rex Electronics store on Route 309, which closed earlier in the year and was reportedly planning on reopening as a home appliance center.
Business Administrator Michael Revitt said economic conditions were likely to cause the township to continue looking at keeping spending under tight control.
In another matter, the township will be considering moves to control election signs after the spate of signs all over the municipality during the recent primaries.
A key issue will be in forcing those responsible for the signs to remove them within a reasonable time after an election or face some sort of financial penalty. Solicitor Bruce Phillips was asked to examine other municipalities’ existing ordinances to see which would work best for the township.
Council was also advised of the mayor’s eighth annual fishing derby in the township settlement camp in Bear Creek on Saturday. Residents seeking information can contact the township office or the mayor at 208-4635.