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Taylor will serve as Fox Chase mayor through end of year

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By Thomas Barr

 FOX CHASE -- A long-time city official has changed seats on the town board.

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With the resignation of mayor Bill Broughton, councilman Owen Taylor was unanimously selected to finish up the final five months of the term.

And to replace Taylor on the Fox Chase City Council, the members selected Kathy Wheeler over three nominees for the position.

Wheeler's term will also expire at the end of December.

The mayor's seat and the six council positions will be up for election in November. The filing deadline is Aug. 12.

One of Taylor's first actions was to present Broughton with a plaque to honor him for his service. Prior to serving as mayor, Broughton had been part of the city council.

In city business:

*Councilmembers David Selby and Wheeler will work on looking at stop signs and their placement in the city.

Under new federal regulations regarding signage, the city will have to have its stop sign in compliance by next year. All signs in the city must be the proper reflective value and height by 2017.

Hebron Estates is one local city that has already tackled the issue and changed out its street signs.

Taylor said he would much prefer ordering signs and having the company install them.

To make and install a stop sign, the cost is around $100.

One note of caution issued by city attorney Mark Edison is the spelling of two-word streets.

A dispute has arisen in Hebron Estates over how a street would be spelled on the new sign. In the case of Fox Chase being two words, he didn't anticipate any problems.

The council will decide at its August meeting the number of stop signs to be purchased.

*Selby presented a 120-page ordinance to cover just about everything possible in terms of maintaining the city in a proper fashion.

The big question is who would enforce the maintenance issues outlined in the ordinance, said Selby.

Edison said the county has an enforcement officer who might be able to assist through an interlocal agreement. He didn't know if any other cities might have an enforcement officer who would assist.

For the past seven years, the city has been trying to do something about a vacant house. Edison said a new ordinance may not help on past issues but will with future problems.

Edison said there is a process to deal with the current problem. He estimated it would cost some money for the city to pursue legal steps. He would outline those options at the August meeting.

*It wasn't even Throwback Thursday but a topic which was the center of discussion for most council meetings 25 years ago surfaced again in July.

Taylor said that some of the trees along Sussex Drive had branches which were hanging over the roadway.

Edison said the age-old problem was who owned the trees and whether the property owners could trim the branches.

Taylor said the county has helped with its equipment in the past.

Councilman Mike Higgins said the main goal is to keep the branches away from the road. He would talk with county road foreman Jimmy Stivers about the possibility of getting some assistance.

Selby said the property owners may want to do the work themselves as it would probably look nicer.

Edison said a courtesy letter could be sent to residents whose trees are overgrown.

Years ago, the city council would discuss the fence line separating individual lots which went past the west side of Sussex Drive and the property owned by the Robards family. It was a monthly focal point.

*Edison recommended an audit be done to close out the records of the previous city clerk and to give new clerk Jennifer Barnes a starting point.

The council voted to have an audit performed.

Later in the meeting, resident Martha Ferguson felt that a forensic audit should be done. She said the audit needs to go back 3-4 years and it should be more complete than the ones the city already receives.

Edison estimated such a detailed audit might cost $20,000-$25,000. The current audits do meet the statutory requirements.

Barnes will get some estimates and bring back the proposals to the council in August.

*Selby said that there is some cracking in the city streets and the matter needs to be addressed before winter.

He said he would get estimates on the work.

Broughton said in the past, the county has helped by doing the work and the city paid only for materials, which is a major savings. He didn't know if that was possible this year.

Higgins said he would get some estimates and would also talk to Stivers on this matter.

*The issue of speeding also resurfaced in Fox Chase.

Selby said speeding is an issue, as well as drivers who don't pay attention and those who will run stop signs.

Taylor said he sees a sheriff's car patrolling the city at times.

Edison said Fox Chase can contract with another entity to provide police protection.

Higgins said having more three-way stops might also slow down drivers.

*Higgins thanked Rocky and Dorcas Comito for their assistance in cleaning up the entrance sign on Sussex Drive.

The next meeting of the Fox Chase City Council will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12, at Jewish Hospital Medical Center South. The public is invited to attend.