LOCKPORT The Woodward Township supervisors seemed to be poised to start the process last night to re-zone a large tract of land from residential to rural center.
However, the supervisors last night instead voted 2-0 (Supervisor Brian Hoy was absent) to postpone the matter until it can be discussed further-with more input from the county planning commission and all three supervisors present-after the owner of the land now proposes to have the 144-acre plot re-zoned woodland conservation instead.
The supervisors seemed poised several months ago to agree with the owner, Ernie Renninger, to re-zone the area from residential to agricultural, which had been for several decades before turning to residential a few years ago. However, they changed course after nearby resident Sara Kitchen brought concerns about a possible large-scale farming operation being allowed to locate in such a zone.
Solicitor Bob O'Connor had suggested the move to rural center, which would allow for the raising of poultry or livestock for personal use, but the township's zoning hearing board could put several restrictions on that use, including the number of animals and how far they must be from adjoining properties.
O'Connor said he is concerned about the woodland conservation district because it would not only allow the personal raising of livestock or poultry, but also animal husbandry, which is the care and breeding of domestic animals such as cattle, hogs, sheep and horses for commercial purposes.
"Woodland conservation would just open up a Pandora's Box for you again," he said. "My recommendation would be for rural central."
O'Connor noted Renninger's proposal for woodland conservation did receive a favorable review by the township planning commission, but has not yet been looked at by the county planning commission.
Township planning commission member Craig Keen said the commission had concerns about a rural center districts bringing about a large number of zoning hearing board meetings with inconsistent rulings from one property to another.
"We think woodland conservation would address needs now and in the future," he said.
O'Connor responded inconsistent rulings could not happen because farm animals are permitted in that district, but the board could put conditions on such practices.
Renninger, meanwhile, said the only one who stated any concerns about agricultural was Kitchen. He noted Kitchen's property is 56 acres from his.
"That's a pretty big buffer zone," he said.
Further, Renninger said, that 56-acre parcel is currently zoned residential, which would allow the owner of that property to put in over 100 mobile home family dwellings, and the county's Conservation District would not allow any large-scale farming operations.
"I don't want anyone telling me how many pets I can have, and that's what the zoning hearing board comes in," he said. "As long as I don't hurt my neighbors in any way, I should be allowed to do what I want to do with my property."
Riverfest Supervisor Marie Selfe, also the chairperson for last weekend's Riverfest, said the event went well, with the number of ducks sold for the annual Duck Derby up from 1,742 last year to 1,769 this year.
"I think everybody had a good time," she said. "Next year it'll be bigger and better."
The event has grown nearly every year since starting in 1996, Selfe said, noting the inaugural Riverfest had four or five vendors, with last weekend's event attracting about 45 vendors. However, with that growth came some problems, as the electricity went out for about 90 minutes on Friday night.
Both Selfe and Supervisor Chairperson Clyde Glossner said the township and the Recreation Committee will have to look to upgrade the electrical system before next year.
Police Chief Steve Falotico said his department fingerprinted around 120 children for identification purposes last weekend, bringing the number of youth being fingerprinted to around 500 in the last three years.
In another matter, Glossner reported the township completed its oil and chipping operations on Village Lane, Shirk Hollow and Queens Run recently. Also, Pine Creek Township, the original contractor for Croak Hollow Road, recently resealed that road after it did not seal properly last year.
"It was too cold or too wet, or the stones were too dirty," Glossner said.