By: Benedict G. Vinzani Jr., Ph.D.
1. QUESTION: CAN LEAVES AND YARD WASTE BE BURNED OUTSIDE?
ANSWER: No. Because grass fires can be easily caused by outside burning, the Borough of Somerset has discontinued allowing leaves and yard waste to be burned outside.
2. QUESTION: HOW DO WINTER VACATIONERS ARRANGE TO HAVE THEIR WATER SERVICE SHUT OFF?
ANSWER: Water customers who wish to have their water service shut off for the winter should notify our water office two weeks prior to the day of the requested shutoff. This allows sufficient time to locate and reset the shutoff valve at the curb. This step is necessary to determine if the shutoff valve is functioning properly. A malfunctioning shut-off valve could cause internal plumbing damage if not taken care of before cold weather arrives.
The Borough has a fact sheet available that outlines the guidelines for disconnecting water/sewer services during extended periods of absence. Please call 443-2661 if you would like a copy, or stop in and pick up one while you are paying your water bill.
3. QUESTION: WHAT IS THE BOROUGH’S WINTER SNOW PLOWING POLICY?
ANSWER: Due to the high costs of removing snow, it is important for the Borough to use its resources wisely and with cooperation from its residents to minimize the cost. As we enter another winter season, Somerset Borough reminds property owners, tenants and contracted snow removers of the following:
• It is unlawful to plow, deposit or blow snow into the streets.
• Plow designs make it very difficult to plow roads without depositing snow along driveway entrances or sidewalks. Homeowners are reminded that they are responsible for access to their private driveways. When possible, delay shoveling/plowing driveways until after the roads have been totally plowed. To help decrease the amount of snow re-deposited at a cleared driveway entrance, clear the shoulder area in advance of the driveway opening and deposit the shoveled or plowed snow away from the direction of the approaching Borough plows. We understand the inconvenience this presents, however the Borough does not remove "wind rows" of snow from driveway entrances.
• The roadways are plowed in order of priority. Main roads are addressed first with special attention to steep hills and difficult intersections. Side roads and alleys are done next. Alleys may remain unplowed if the main roads require repeated plowing.
• It is a safety hazard to residents and plow drivers when vehicles are parked along the road during heavy snowfall. Not only do parked vehicles reduce the sightline for pedestrians and oncoming vehicles, but they also force the plows to veer out of the travel lane. It would help our snow removal efforts if residents would remove vehicles from the roadway prior to a major snow/ice storm, and use available off-street parking.
• A copy of Somerset Borough’s Snow Policy is available at the Municipal Building or by accessing our web site at www.somersetborough.com. You may also phone the Borough office at 443-2661, extension 400 and listen to the major features of our policy.
4. SOMERSET BOROUGH FALL LEAF COLLECTION PROGRAM
Under Pennsylvania’s Recycling Program, leaves must be separated from regular garbage. Residents are reminded not to sweep leaves into the street. The practice of burning leaves and yard waste is also prohibited. For those Borough residents wanting to dispose of their leaves, the Borough provides two separate weeks for collection of leaves. There was a collection during the week of October 20th and the next one is scheduled during from November 17th through November 26th. Continue watching the Daily American Newspaper for information on the collection procedures. Stickers must be placed on each bag of leaves set out for collection and can be obtained at the Borough Building, 347 West Union Street. You may contact the Borough office at 443-2661 with any questions, or for additional information. Bags containing garbage, or without stickers will not be collected. If you still have leaves after the collection dates, Borough residents may drop off properly stickered bags at the Public Works Garage at 644 South Franklin Avenue between the hours of 6:00 am and 2:30 pm Monday through Friday.
The borough has a fact sheet available that outlines the guidelines for leaf collection. You may also access this information on the homepage of the Somerset Borough web site at www.somersetborough.com.
5. QUESTION: WHEN ARE BUILDING PERMITS REQUIRED?
ANSWER: Permits are required to construct, enlarge, alter, or demolish a structure. They are needed when the occupancy of a building or structure or when sanitary facilities are added. Permits are required when a proposed change occurs in the use of a building, or when water or sewer service is requested, driveway construction planned, fencing erected or streets excavated. A comprehensive listing of activities requiring permits is available at our Inspections Department; by calling 445-5595; and on our web site www.somersetborough.com.
6. SOMERSET BOROUGH’S WEBSITE – CHECK IT OUT!
The Borough of Somerset is accessible through the World Wide Web at www.somersetborough.com. Our website allows users of the internet to become familiar with the various services provided by the Borough. It includes information about the history of Somerset Borough; data and statistics; various ordinances including the Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Ordinance; Building Permits; our Main Street Program; recycling; and information (including e-mails and phone numbers) of the various Borough departments. There is a section for Frequently Asked Questions and forms to file a complaint. You are even able to access building permit forms as well a form to report a street light that is malfunctioning.
7. NUMBERS TO CALL IN AN EMERGENCY
During normal business hours (8:00 am to 4:30 pm) Monday through Friday an emergency can be reported by calling the Borough’s general offices at 443-2661. During other times, the Borough has arranged with Somerset County Control to receive emergency calls. Their staff is trained to get in touch with the proper person or agency to handle after normal business hours. Please do not call individual Borough employees or elected officials, as this will only delay addressing the problem. The number to call to report emergencies that happen after normal business hours and on holidays is 445-1525.