LOCKPORT Bowing to concerns from nearby residents that changing a large parcel owned by Ernie Renninger from residential to agricultural could lead to future, large-scale farming operations, the Woodward Township supervisors Tuesday night decided against that request.
Instead, the supervisors unanimously agreed to start the process to re-zone that 148-acre parcel from residential to rural center district that would allow for horses and livestock, subject to the approval of the township's Zoning Hearing Board.
Supervisors Clyde Glossner, Brian Hoy and Marie Selfe seemed intent to grant the change from rural to agricultural last month, at Renninger's request, after it had been zoned agricultural for years.
However, nearby resident Sara Kitchen had concerns then and last night over the possible stench from large-scale animal operations, which is allowed in the agricultural district.
The supervisors agreed to postpone action on the matter last month until Tuesday night, so Solicitor Bob O'Connor could further review the matter. Renninger had also said last month he could put a covenant in his deed so no farming operations could be located there in the future.
However, O'Connor said last night a covenant could not be enforced by neighboring landowners, and the township could not make any future landowner to use the covenant against themselves.
Instead, O'Connor suggested the supervisors look to re-zone that area from residential to rural center district. That district, which is already in effect in the Swissdale area of the township, supports growth and the co-existence of residential and agricultural properties, with several permitted uses.
Those uses include private or commercial stables, and the raising of livestock or poultry for personal use. However, O'Connor added, those uses would first have to be approved by the township zoning hearing board.
"I think that should be satisfactory to all people," Glossner said. "This is costing the township a lot, believe me."
The supervisors decided to have O'Connor draft the re-zoning request and send it to the township and county planning hearing boards for their review and approval, then schedule a public hearing on the matter, likely in August.
The re-zoning would include the current 144-acre plot owned by Renninger, and a 4-acre plot recently sub-divided and sold to Jim Gregory.
Renninger reiterated it is not his intention to have a large-scale farming operation on his property now or in the future, and said he hoped the county's Conservation District Office officials would also make sure that did not happen.
The supervisors last night also started proceedings against two "nuisance properties" in the township.
The first property is an abandoned trailer along Mill Hill Road.
"It is a garbage storage area," Glossner said. "It is a hazard to that area and to the community."
The supervisors gave their unanimous approval to start clean-up proceedings, which would be to first get a fair market value of the property and then the estimated cost of clean up.
"It is a very hazardous property," Selfe said.
The second property is the Walizer property along Park Avenue, near the Keiffer residence.
Wade Keiffer and his wife brought the supervisors several pictures of the property and the deteriorating nature of the structure and land.
"It is full of garbage and junk and odors are emanating from it, along with the probable infestation by rodents," O'Connor said. "The weed problem is getting worse and worse and worse," Glossner added.
Glossner said Assistant Zoning Officer Dave Evers is also very concerned with the dangerous condition of the property.
"It is an accident waiting to happen," Glossner said.
Keiffer said his family's biggest concern is with the stench, especially with the increasingly hot temperatures in the area.
"There is a horrible smell coming out of the house," he said. "It's not only junk, it's dog feces It's just horrible."
Glossner said he will discuss the matter with Zoning Officer Craig Yarnell Wednesday morning and possibly have the township hire a third party to clean up the property.
"It is a health and a safety hazard and it has to be rectified," Selfe said.
The supervisors also unanimously agreed Tuesday night to accept the low bid of $75,355 from Glenn O. Hawbaker. However, it did not come without much discussion, especially from Hoy, who said he believes Hawbaker's materials are not up to industry standards and it could mean having the company come back for the same work in the near future.
"Their material's not very good," said Hoy, who was wearing a collared T-shirt with an HRI emblem. "They are a quality company, their materials just are not."
Instead, Hoy suggested the supervisors accept the second-lowest bid from HRI, since it came in at just $640 more, at $75,995.
The third bid from Charles Construction was for $89,282. However, O'Connor noted the supervisors could reject the low bid only if Hawbaker was the not a "responsible" bidder and that could only be proven if it did shoddy work in the township.
The work will be on portions of North Vista Drive, Village Lane, Queens Run Road, Shirk Hollow Road and Cider Press Road.
No parking fines
Glossner also emphatically reminded the public the township takes care of its recreational areas and to have people park in parking lots instead of in the grass, causing damage.
He suggested the township increase its "no parking" fine from its current $3. But, O'Connor reminded Glossner the township's ordinance currently allows for fines of up to $600 for parking in "no parking" areas.
"We have a lot of misuse of our park areas and our boat launch area," Glossner said as his volume continued to increase. "Everybody takes us for granted over here. This township is spending $200 a week in maintenance to these areas, including repairing broken toilet commodes, urinals, people urinating on panels causing them to rust."
The supervisors also decided to follow the lead of Flemington Borough to split from the Central Clinton County Council of Governments, which has not met for well over a year. The supervisors said they will reinvestigate the matter if the COG becomes a more active organization.