Zoning attitudes modified

September 18, 1997


Staff Writer, Chambersburg

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - Some St. Thomas Township residents are changing their minds about establishing a zoning ordinance if it could keep a proposed landfill from being constructed.

The about-face positions add a new angle to the ongoing controversy that has resurfaced recently. During an upcoming vote, township supervisors will adopt or turn down the proposed ordinance.

It has cost the township $22,000 over the last 10 years to draft the zoning ordinance.

The supervisors will vote in a public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 2 in the township office at 965 Hade Road.


"I'm all for zoning if it gives us a handle on keeping the dump out of my back yard," said Robert Estep Jr., who lives less than a mile away from the proposed Multilee landfill site off St. Thomas-Williamson Road.

Estep said he's having second thoughts about signing a petition opposing the zoning ordinance that was circulated in the township several months ago.

More than 2,500 signatures were collected.

"I've changed my opinion on zoning ... There are no restrictions that I see that adversely impact a normal property owner," Estep said.

Other township residents have been voicing similar opinions since the supervisors announced at their last meeting that the zoning ordinance could pose a major stumbling block for the landfill, according to Supervisor Randall Quinn.

The landfill, proposed by St. Thomas Township resident Harold Brake, has been a source of contention for nearly 15 years, leading to the creation of a petition and a citizens opposition group.

But citizen group President David Ramer, a supervisor candidate in this year's election who opposes zoning, said a zoning ordinance won't keep landfills out. Instead, it restricts businesses and individual homeowners, he said.

"I would rather continue to fight it (the landfill) on the basis we have been. Zoning affects so many other things," Ramer said.

Supervisor Robert Lake said the intent of the zoning ordinance is not to keep the landfill out.

"It protects the people, it protects the value of properties, it protects the economic well-being of the township ... It's a plan for the future," Lake said.

If it's approved, despite fervent opposition from residents up until recently, the zoning ordinance would not stop the development of a landfill in the township. It would control the placement of a landfill on property set aside - or zoned - for the purpose.

Under the proposed zoning ordinance, a landfill could be placed on land zoned for woodland conservation, where public services like water and sewer aren't available.

But whether approving the ordinance would stop the already proposed Multilee landfill remains a question for the courts, according to Chris Novak, press secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Brake applied for a state permit more than 10 years ago. The applications are still under review, including the process of proving that there's a need for it, said Tim Cormany, a planning consultant hired by the township.

But supervisors argue that a land development plan has never been submitted to the township for review and therefore it would be considered under the new zoning ordinance, if approved, which would put the proposed Multilee landfill site in an agriculture-zoned area.

A state permit does not override local zoning ordinances, Novak said.

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